HC Deb 11 March 1971 vol 813 cc569-70
25. Miss Lestor

asked the Minister of State for Defence what is the annual cost of maintaining military bands in Regular Forces and the Territorial Army, respectively.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

About £7½ million and £85,000 a year, respectively.

Miss Lestor

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that this is a great deal of money to spend on military bands? Is he further aware that it exceeds the amount being spent annually on the urban aid programme in deprived areas? Will he therefore look at this matter again with the aim of trying to cut down the amount spent by the Forces in order that they may blow their own trumpets?

Mr. Gilmour

The hon. Lady's comparison is utterly irrelevant. The bands have a vital morale and recruiting rôle. About 80 per cent. of the sums allocated go to salaries. Army regimental bands- men are also trained as medical assistants, Royal Marine bandsmen carry out local defence duties, and R.A.F. bandsmen are trained in both skills.

Mr. Allason

In case my hon. Friend is tempted to reduce military bands, may I ask him to recall that they give enormous pleasure not only to the Forces but to the civilian population?

Mr. Gilmour

That is undoubtedly true. However, two bands will disappear within the next year or so.

Mr. Maclennan

Can the Minister say what contribution to the costs of these bands is made by people who hire their services?

Mr. Gilmour

Not without notice, but certainly a good deal of money comes in this way.