HC Deb 08 February 1961 vol 634 c369
1. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Defence what percentage of the working population is now either in the Services or supporting them; and how this compares with three years ago.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

The percentage of the working population now in the Services or supporting them is estimated at 4. 7 per cent. This compares with 60 per cent. three years ago.

Mr. Digby

Is it not a fact that in the 1957 White Paper on Defence the figure was no less than 7 per cent.? Does not this show that the Defence Services have made a big contribution to the economic difficulties of the country? Will my right hon. Friend make representations accordingly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Watkinson

I am very grateful to my hon. Friend for what he has said. It is perfectly true that the Services have carried out a very painful operation in trying to reduce their dependence on the manpower of our working population.

Mr. H. Hynd

Would it not be more realistic to quote numbers rather than percentages?

Mr. Emrys Hughes

And cost.

Mr. Watkinson

No, I think that the percentage gives a fair figure.