HC Deb 10 July 1957 vol 573 cc376-7
42. Sir J. Henderson-Stewart

asked the Secretary of State for War if he will make a statement on the future of school cadet corps.

The Secretary of State for War (Mr. John Hare)

The purpose of the school cadet forces, and the cadet forces of the three Services, will remain unchanged under the new defence policy. Indeed with the abolition of National Service they will become even more important.

Their task is to give preliminary training to boys interested in the Regular and auxiliary forces and to develop powers of leadership and initiative. The cadet forces can play a vital part in our progress towards the all-volunteer Services which will be the foundation of the new defence structure.

My right hon. Friend, the Minister of Defence, mentioned last week measures to strengthen the cadet forces. Some of these measures are already before the Inter-Services Cadet Committee. It is our policy by these and other means to encourage and assist the cadet forces.

Sir J. Henderson-Stewart

I thank my right hon. Friend for that reply, but will he indicate when the schools will learn what the new plans are? Meanwhile, they are somewhat in the dark.

Mr. Hare

I think that my hon. Friend is quite right. There seems to be a general misconception about the future of these forces, and I hope that my Answer will make it quite clear that a newspaper article in an evening paper today, saying that these forces would be curtailed and transformed, is entirely untrue. I certainly realise the urgency of announcing the conditions for improving these cadet forces, and I hope that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence will be in a position to take as rapid action as possible.

Mr. Short

Would the Minister say when the Inter-Services Cadet Committee is likely to report, and whether he has considered my suggestion that the schools themselves should be represented on that Committee?

Mr. Hare

I certainly well remember the contribution made by the hon. Gentleman in the Service Estimates debate. I know that that matter is under consideration, because we took note of what he said.