HC Deb 20 January 1981 vol 997 cc137-8
7. Mr. David Atkinson

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many careers information offices exist for each of the three Services at the present time.

Mr. Pattie

There are currently 241 careers information offices in the United Kingdom, of which 10 are tri-Service, 47 bi-Service and 184 single-Service. Of the single-Service offices, 27 are Royal Navy, 136 Army and 21 Royal Air Force.

Mr. Atkinson

At the risk of asking the obvious, what studies have been made into making all the outlets tri-Service outlets? Moreover, has my hon. Friend considered discussing with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment the possibility of selling off all the careers service offices in favour of having an appropriate desk in each jobcentre?

Mr. Pattie

A study is currently in hand the central proposal of which is that the present network of 241 offices to which I referred should be cut down to 190, of which about 80 will be shared. On the question of jobcentres, the CIOs, as we call them, are used for assessment and testing. We feel that when we get a potential recruit to that stage of an interview, it is better for this to be dealt with by someone with direct experience of the Armed Forces than by someone working in a jobcentre.

Mr. R. C. Mitchell

Is the Minister aware that at times there is considerable criticism when the public see three separate careers offices, one for each of the three Services, occupying prime sites in the centre of a town? Will he do everything possible to extend the number of tri-Service recruiting offices?

Mr. Pattie

As I indicated in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson), we are doing just that, although the hon. Gentleman will appreciate that very often it is not possible to relinquish leased premises without incurring a substantial penalty.

Mr. Hill

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the career officers should go into the schools more often to explain the opportunities for joining the Navy, the Army or the Air Force, since the youngster of today, who is particularly oriented to high technology, would welcome that information?

Mr. Pattie

My hon. Friend will be pleased to know that that is precisely the change of emphasis that we hope to see.

Mr. Arthur Davidson

When does the Minister expect there to be the 80 tri-Service offices to which he referred? What time scale has he in mind?

Mr. Pattie

Mainly because of the leasing considerations to which I referred in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test-(Mr. Hill), the operation is likely to take most of this decade.

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