HC Deb 22 June 1955 vol 542 cc1312-3
49. Mr. Bellenger

asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that, owing to the greater inducements now offered by industry in wages and amenities, the Armed Services are experiencing considerable difficulty in recruiting long-term personnel; and, as this is likely to have a cumulative effect on the efficiency of the Services and will ultimately imperil the country's safety in an emergency, if he will forthwith take steps to have the matter brought under review by the most effective means.

The Prime Minister

I am aware of the difficulties the Armed Forces are experiencing in obtaining sufficient men on long-term Regular engagements. The pay increases of April, 1954, were designed to give increased recognition to skill and length of service, and have had useful results. The question is, however, one which my right hon. Friends the Minister of Defence and the Service Ministers are keeping under examination.

Mr. Bellenger

Bearing in mind the fact that the Prime Minister is primarily responsible in the Cabinet for defence matters, will he not call forthwith for a special report from the Service Ministers and then, after deliberation, acquaint the House with his conclusions?

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence is engaged on the matter now. We are aware of the problem. It is not new, and there are many aspects to it. We cannot usefully deal with it in Question and Answer.

Mr. Alport

Is my right hon. Friend aware that one of the greatest attractions which could be extended to long-service soldiers would be an increase in the pension rate? They are more concerned with pensions than with the level of pay, which at present is not unsatisfactory.

The Prime Minister

There is every kind of aspect to this problem, including the civil position and its effects upon the military situation. It might be useful to debate it, but I doubt whether we can carry it much further at Question Time.