HC Deb 09 November 1976 vol 919 cc204-5
13. Mr. Pattie

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the level of recruitment to the sponsored units of the TAVR; and whether he will make a statement.

The Under-Secretary of State for the Army (Mr. Robert C. Brown)

Sponsored units have benefited from this year's upsurge in recruiting, although not to the same extent as the independent units. There is room for improvement, and the situation is kept under careful review.

Mr. Pattie

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the sponsored units of the TAVR are 4,000 below strength on an establishment of 12,000? Will not he consider making a one-year tour of duty with the Reserve a requirement for a soldier ending his Regular tour of duty?

Mr. Brown

I do not think that that would alter the situation. To quote from the hon. Gentleman's own pamphlet, these are units which are composed entirely of key specialists who do the same jobs in the Army as they do in civilian life. That being so, clearly it is much more difficult recruiting in the sponsored units than it is in the independent units.

Mr. Alan Lee Williams

Does my hon. Friend agree that the TAVR is a very efficient way of maintaining a reserve of manpower at an economic cost, but that there is some concern about training facilities and their cost, especially in Germany?

Mr. Brown

I endorse my hon. Friend's remarks. The TAVR plays a most important part in the defence of this country. That is all the more reason why I am so pleased that recruitment went up so well last year. As for training, I do not think that my hon. Friend need be too apprehensive, because, every year, we send up to 12,000 TAVR men to train in Germany.

Mr. Kershaw

I agree with the Minister that the TAVR is well recruited and efficient, but will he consider increasing the numbers of TAVR, perhaps to be set off against a reduction in our Regular reserves, who are still liable but who, after a few years, have no training at all?

Mr. Brown

At present, the independent units of the TAVR are about 87 per cent. recruited. Clearly, we have some way to go in recruiting. Nevertheless, in terms of the sponsored units, where there are shortages, these would not impair efficiency, because our practice would be to top up with Regular reservists.

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