HC Deb 18 December 1968 vol 775 cc1381-2
39. Mr. Onslow

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to reducing the term of initial enlistment in the Army.

Mr. Boyden

I would refer the hon. Member to the remarks made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for Administration in his speech in the defence debate last Monday. It was an excellent speech which obviously got under the skin of the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon).

Mr. Onslow

Leaving aside that partisan rubbish, may I ask the Minister whether he is aware that many commanding officers would regard this as a favourable stimulus to recruitment and that they would hope to persuade men to re-engage if they once got them into the unit?

Mr. Boyden

The views of commanding officers differ on this matter, which has been under review on several occasions since 1961 and which is being reviewed now.

Dr. Hugh Gray

Will my hon. Friend consider introducing contracts for the Armed Services with options out at regular intervals?

Mr. Boyden

Constructive suggestions are always welcome.

Mr. Rippon

While assuring the Minister that his right hon. Friend's speech got neither under nor over my skin—I do not think that it made very much impression on anybody—may I ask him to note that on this point he made no comment whatever? While this may or may not be a good idea, may we at least have the Government's view about it?

Mr. Boyden

My right hon. Friend did indeed make a comment. He said that the matter was being reviewed.