HC Deb 26 July 1979 vol 971 cc864-5
6. Mr. Garel-Jones

asked the Secretary tary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the considerable contribution made to the police service by police cadet courses, he will take steps to restore the position for admission of cadets which existed prior to the October 1976 cuts introduced by the previous Government.

Mr. Brittan

Cadets are a useful aid to police recruitment and resources are available for an increase in strengths. It is, however, a matter for local decision how much of the money available to the police should be spent on cadets, taking into account the need to augment recruitment of police officers by this method.

Mr. Garel-Jones

I am grateful to my hon. and learned Friend for that reply. Is he aware that the wastage rate among cadets going into the police force is authoritatively estimated to be about one in 100, whereas the wastage rate for adult entry is as now as low as one in three? Is he aware also that in my own county of Hertfordshire, where the possible intake of cadets is 60, since the cuts by the previous Government the number of cadets coming into the force was as low as six in the first quarter of this year? Can he give some assurance that the Government will repair the damage that was inflicted on cadet training forces by the cuts imposed by the previous Administration?

Mr. Brittan

It is fair to say that the restrictions on cadets and civilians were partly lifted during 1978–79, so the public expenditure plans for 1979–80 make provision for the level of cadets to rise to 4,000. On 31 March this year there were 3,145 cadets. Therefore, within the scope of what is anticipated there is room for a substantial increase in cadet numbers. However, they are expensive compared with direct recruitment, and a working party of the police advisory board is being set up to study the whole system.

Mr. George Cunningham

Is the Minister aware that, contrary to the implication in this question, the previous Government gave full support to cadet courses? If the hon. Member for Watford (Mr. Garel-Jones) wants to make this kind of implication in his question the Minister will have to face the fact that between the last year of the Conservative Government in 1973 and the last year of the Labour Government there was a dramatic improvement in police recruitment.

Mr. Brittan

I am not answering for the previous Labour Government or even for the previous Conservative Government. I have tried to answer the question.