HC Deb 03 May 1983 vol 42 c9
8. Mr. Hardy

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many senior non-commissioned officers will be required to supervise and train the unemployed young people who are to be taken into the armed services under the Government's recent proposals.

Mr. Wiggin

Participants in the armed services youth training scheme will train and work alongside other service men and women. It is therefore not practicable to say how many senior non-commissioned officers will be involved in their supervision and training.

Mr. Hardy

Is it not surprising that the Manpower Services Commission's staffing is tightly restricted while this gimmick is so frivolously pursued? Will the Minister re-examine the commitment of senior NCOs? Does he accept that military efficiency depends to a large extent on them and that they will be diverted from essential duties in this frivolous approach?

Mr. Wiggin

I take the view that they will be employed on essential duties. The scheme is neither frivolous nor a waste of time. The services will contribute about £1 million towards the scheme, which will be of great benefit to a large number of young people.

Sir Hector Monro

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Opposition's attitude to this excellent new scheme is entirely misguided? Does he agree that the scheme will give young men a wonderful opportunity to be involved in outward bound activities and to learn about discipline and character development, which should stand them and their country in good stead for the future?

Mr. Wiggin

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The Opposition line reveals a patent dislike of all matters relating to defence.

Mr. Ashley

If any of the young service men are severely injured during the course of their duties, other than on military action, will they retain the right to sue for negligence that they now have as civilians, or will they lose that right, as all service men lose it under section 10 of the Crown Proceedings Act 1947?

Mr. Wiggin

Section 10 of that Act will apply to the young service men in the same way as it applies to all service men. The right hon. Gentleman makes a slightly poor point, because service men can obtain generous disability and other pensions for the remainder of their lives, which are substitutes for the right enjoyed by an ordinary civilian to sue an employer.