HC Deb 21 February 1978 vol 944 cc1194-5
5. Mr. Wigley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many persons were recruited to serve in the Armed Forces from Wales during 1977.

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

A total of 1,840 Service men and Service women were recruited from careers information offices in Wales during 1977. This does not include officers and all entrants to the Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service since they are recruited on a central basis and regional figures are not readily available.

Mr. Wigley

Does the hon. Gentleman appreciate that there is dismay in many parts of Wales at the fact that, as quickly as the unemployment figures rise, so do the number of hoardings urging people to join the Armed Forces as a career? Does he accept that the best kind of people to get into the Armed Forces are not those who are forced in by economic circumstances but those who wish to go in to make it their career? Putting up hoardings in proportion to the number of unemployed is not the right way to do it.

Mr. Wellbeloved

The best people to join the Armed Forces are those with a dedication to the protection of freedom in this country, including the Principality of Wales, and the motivation and desire to be of service to this country.

Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith

I accept what the hon. Gentleman says, but is he not disturbed and rather ashamed that so many people want to leave the Armed Forces as a direct consequence of the Government's wretched attitude to the Armed Forces' pay? That is what he should be worried about.

Mr. Wellbeloved

There have been irresponsible actions and statements by some Opposition Members who seek to gain the maximum political advantage from every difficulty that this country has faced and is emerging from. There are 80,000 people serving in the RAF, and the numbers applying for early retirement are few in comparison with the overwhelming number who are still determined, despite their anxieties, to continue to do a first-class job.