Second Day

Part of Orders of the Day — Defence – in the House of Commons at 7:06 pm on 15th October 1991.

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Photo of Sir Nicholas Fairbairn Sir Nicholas Fairbairn , Perth and Kinross 7:06 pm, 15th October 1991

She did not do so by giving every man a kiss. She held the King's shilling in her lips and when the man took it he got it. All the Scottish regiments are fully recruited.

The fifth fallacy is that there has been full consultation. The Army Board is itself. That is not full consultation. The council of colonels was given this consultation: "You will be hanged, drawn and quartered. Either you are hanged, drawn and quartered or you decide in which order you want to be quartered, hanged and drawn. Otherwise, we will decide it for you." That is not consultation.

On 23 July the Secretary of State boasted: For more than 40 years the British Army has stood in the front line in Europe with our NATO allies."—[Official Report, 23 July 1991; Vol. 195, c 1036.] For 285 years the Scottish infantry regiments have been guarding the safety of the realm of the United Kingdom. They have served worldwide in wholly disproportionate numbers and with casualties in every engagement from Lucknow to Kuwait. The father of the colonel of the Queen's Own Highlanders, already an amalgamation of the Cameron and Seaforth Highlanders, and about to be amalgamated again if the Secretary of State does not see sense, then commanding the Seaforths on the first day of the Somme, went into battle with 600 Jocks and came back with 40. That is the sacrifice that Scotland has made. That is not an argument of sentimentality or of specialty. It is an argument and a warning—I am afraid, a terrible warning —of the consequences of ill-thought-out acts of obstinacy.

Bydand—I bide my time—is the motto of the Gordons. They will bide their time and the Secretary of State will be the victim. If he betrays those who have played the greatest part—the lion's share, or the unicorn's if hon. Members prefer—in the defence of the union of the realm since 1707 with ferocity, sacrifice and loyalty, and those who are most loyal to the union now and who would vote and fight for it, he may find that he has not only cut the Army but broken the union. "Nemo me impugne lacessit" is the motto of Scotland and means, essentially, "Don't affront the Jocks or they won't forget it"—and, by God, we won't.