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No plan to axe regiment...at the moment

PUBLISHED: 10:09 15 June 2003 | UPDATED: 14:00 03 March 2010

ARMED Forces Minister Adam Ingram told Parliament there are no "current" plans to scrap a Royal Anglian Regiment battalion - but warned MPs to wait for the Government's defence review due later this year.

ARMED Forces Minister Adam Ingram told Parliament there are no "current" plans to scrap a Royal Anglian Regiment battalion – but warned MPs to wait for the Government's defence review due later this year.

It was last week revealed that one of the Royal Anglian's two battalions is under "severe threat" due to Army cutbacks.

A member of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, Patrick Mercer, said the regiment, which recruits from Essex, Suffolk and Norfolk, was a "prime candidate" to have a unit disbanded in a reorganisation of infantry battalions, which would see two scrapped.

The EADT report on the issue prompted MPs to ask Mr Ingram about Government plans for the Royal Anglian Regiment during the Armed Forces debate in Parliament on Thursday evening.

Colchester MP Bob Russell asked Mr Ingram to give an assurance that a Royal Anglian battalion will not be disbanded.

Mr Ingram said: "There are no plans to disband the Royal Anglians and their battalions. That is the situation. The Royal Anglians are a well respected regiment of the British Army and their recent efforts in maintaining peace and stability in Afghanistan are a clear demonstration of their professionalism."

But when Mid-Norfolk MP Keith Simpson quoted an MOD spokeswoman from the EADT report suggesting units may be disbanded, Mr Ingram said: "We have no current plans to disband the Royal Anglians, but I say to the honourable gentleman that he should wait for the White Paper, which will be published later in the year."

Mr Mercer reiterated his fears that two infantry battalions are to be scrapped and said: "The loss of any battalion from the Army would be a disgrace. The loss of the Royal Anglian Regiment, swept away by a bureaucrat's pen after 300 years' dedication to the Crown would appal me."

Essex MP Mark Francois, a former Royal Anglian Territorial Army officer who now represents Rayleigh, said by any "statistical or meritocratic" comparison neither of the Royal Anglian battalions should go because of their "excellent record" in recruiting and retaining soldiers.

He urged Mr Ingram "to understand that the Royal Anglian regiment is regarded with great affection within East Anglia. I very much hope that the proposal simple fades away, and that the suggestion does not get really serious".

He added: "If the proposal becomes a reality and one of our two regular battalions appears to be seriously under threat it is very likely that Ministers will face considerable anger in East Anglia."

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