18 FEBRUARY 1949, Page 1


In fact if an attack develops at all it will have to cover a wider front. The question of numbers is being settled as best it can be. That is to say the period of conscription has been extended and the effort to secure the all-important volunteers has been intensified. The question of quality has also been faced, and if costs and the protestations of the Statement on Defence published on Tuesday mean anything, an acceptable answer will be found. But there, remains the vital question of efficiency, and here every citizen is thrown back on his own resources of information and opinion. The Statement on Defence is of very little help. It acknowledges that there has been waste in the use of manpower and remarks that " the Service Ministers will accordingly continue to give the subject their unremitting attention." It gives an account of the activities of the three Services in the past year which is as much 'concerned with difficulties as with success in overcoming them. Short of a Secret "debate it is unlikely that much more detailed information will be forthcoming. But it is equally unlikely that the search for the truth will flag and that disturbing questions will not be asked. What evidence is there that the Army and the Royal Air

Force are ready for a really serious emergency? When will the stories of national service men wasting their time on menial jobs begin to get less frequent? And how strong—or weak—is public confidence in the present Minister of Defence ? This week's debate should have thrown valuable light on that.