HC Deb 09 November 1976 vol 919 cc196-8
5. Mr. Woodall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the co-ordination of the recruitment activities of the three Services.

20. Mr. Peter Morrison

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he remains satisfied with recruitment to Her Majesty's forces.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Air Force (Mr. James Wellbeloved)

Yes, in so far as the recruiting needs of the Services in terms of quality and quantity are generally being met. There is, of course, always likely to be some room for improvement in terms of increased rationalisation and efficiency, and I am anxious to ensure that, wherever possible, such improvements will be made.

Mr. Woodall

I thank my hon. Friend for that reply. What progress has been made towards the possible combining of the work of the careers information offices of the three Services? Does my hon. Friend agree that such a combination might bring a saving in terms of duplicated expenditure?

Mr. Wellbeloved

I believe that the co-location of the information offices could bring about a significant saving in defence expenditure. In the 10 years since it was first decided to try to co-locate, we have done so in 57 cases, and we review the position regularly to see whether, on the expiration of leases on any of the three Services information offices, further progress can be made. Particular attention is being given to the question of co-location of the Army and naval recruiting services in Barnsley, near my hon. Friend's constituency, for example.

Mr. Morrison

Will the hon. Gentleman give an assurance that whatever pressures are put on him by the Tribune group he will continue to do what is necessary to keep up the level of recruitment for the Armed Forces?

Mr. Wellbeloved

Irrespective of Opposition pressures put upon the Government to change their policy, we shall continue to try to bring about the economic recovery of the United Kingdom in order that we can sustain all our commitments. I can tell the House that, despite the knocking remarks of Opposition Members when they go round the country complaining about the state of Great Britain, we are maintaining our recruitment requirements quite adequately, as we have done over the past two years.

Mr. Clemitson

What is the Government's attitude to visits to schools by members of the Armed Forces, particularly in regard to allowing and, indeed, encouraging, the use of rifles by schoolchildren?

Mr. Wellbeloved

If my hon. Friend will bring to my attention any particular case that he is concerned about I shall have it investigated, but it is the desire of the Secretary of State and myself that young people at school should have all possible information made available to them about a career in the Armed Forces, and that it should be specifically drawn to their attention that enlistment in the Armed Forces opens up an honourable, exciting and worthwhile career.

Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles

In the context of recruiting, will the hon. Gentleman reconsider the suggestion that the names of individual officers and men who are employed on rendering bombs safe in Northern Ireland should be published whenever Press releases are made about these events, in order to give recognition to their work?

Mr. Wellbeloved

I shall bring that suggestion to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, for his advice on the security aspects, as there may be reasons why it should not be done.

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