HC Deb 03 August 1966 vol 733 cc443-4
11. Mr. Robert Davies

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what public funds are being provided for the military training of schoolchildren and other young persons under 18 years of age; and if he will release these funds for other educational purposes.

The Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. J. P. W. Mallalieu)

I assume that my hon. Friend's Question relates to the cadet forces: the overall cost of these to public funds is about £3.7 million a year. Many members are over the age of 18 years and it is not practicable to distinguish the cost attributable to those under that age. The answer to the second part of the Question is: No, Sir.

Mr. Davies

Is not this an unwarrantable waste of public money in present circumstances? May I remind the Minister—[HON. MEMBERS: "No."]—that a previous Labour Administration discontinued these grants? Is not this the time to revert to that precedent?

Mr. Mallalieu

It is not an unwarrantable waste of public money. So long as we are to have Armed Forces, we have to have recruits, and this is one way of getting them. Secondly, these forces are doing an extremely good job as public youth services. If my hon. Friend wants confirmation of that, I shall be glad to arrange visits for him.

Mrs. Knight

Will the hon. Gentleman accept that many such cadet forces inculcate into these young people the virtues of discipline, smartness and alertness, which are of great benefit to them?

Mr. Mallalieu

They help to inculcate a great many virtues.