HC Deb 23 May 1978 vol 950 cc1323-4
12. Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received from trade unions requesting recruitment facilities, in order to persuade members of the Armed Forces to join trade unions.

Mr. Mulley

I have received one such request, from the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs.

Mr. Hoyle

Will my right hon. Friend look favourably upon the one request which he has received and upon other requests which he may receive, to allow trade unions to pursue a policy of recruiting members of the Armed Forces?

Mr. Mulley

I listened to the full and fair statement by my hon. Friend yesterday on behalf of his union. As I have told him on previous occasions, until it is clear what trade unions could do for the Armed Forces I would not think it right to encourage a widespread recruiting campaign on the lines that my hon. Friend has in mind.

Mr. Goodhart

While I agree with the latter part of the right hon. Gentleman's reply, may I ask whether he is aware that if he had to meet trade union negotiators he could not possibly get away with the negative replies that he has been giving to questions about the future of the local overseas allowance? Can he give us a pledge that this year's meagre pay increase for the Services will not be eroded by a cut in local overseas allowance, which makes up 40 per cent. of the pay of our Service men in BAOR?

Mr. Speaker

Order. That is a quite separate question from that which appears on the Order Paper.

Mr. Mulley

I would like to answer it, Mr. Speaker because it was last year that the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) and some of his hon. Friends were going around saying that the local overseas allowance was to be reduced by 40 per cent. This turned out to be totally wrong. I see that they are starting in May this year instead of August. As the hon. Member knows, the whole matter is under review and I cannot anticipate anything. I express the hope that the hon. Gentleman will not begin his campaign to undermine the morale of the British Army of the Rhine earlier this year than he did last year.