HC Deb 13 May 1986 vol 97 cc543-4
5. Mr. Colvin

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what measures are being taken to increase the take-up places under the YTS scheme by persons for whom his Department is responsible: and if he will make a statement.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. John Lee)

My right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces outlined steps being taken to encourage armed services YTS recruitment in his answer to questions put by my hon. Friends the Members for Windsor and Maidenhead (Dr. Glyn) and for Norwich, North (Mr. Thompson) on 15 April, at columns 712–13.

Mr. Colvin

I congratulate my hon. Friend on the fact that 2,700 youngsters have done armed services YTS, and 60 per cent. are staying on for regular service in the armed forces. Nevertheless, only about a quarter of the ASYTS places are being taken up. I should be grateful if my hon. Friend will tell us what he proposes to do to promote YTS in the armed forces to a greater extent, perhaps through a cadet corps, particularly now that, with the introduction of the two-year YTS, greater training facilities will be available in particular qualifications for City and Guilds?

Mr. Lee

I know of my hon. Friend's interest in this matter. We shall consider his specific suggestions. We continue to promote the scheme actively through visits by service school liaison officers, several thousand such visits are planned this year, and there will be a new range of publicity material. There are some pleasing aspects. Of the participants in armed forces YTS about 60 per cent. have gone on to regular engagements. On the civilian YTS, approximately 70 per cent. have gone on to full apprenticeships with us.

Mr. Douglas

We welcome the fact that there are new entrants in the services in the lower echelons, but what is happening to the attrition rate in the higher echelons? We seem to be losing highly skilled personnel, especially from the Royal Navy. Is that loss related to the lack of ordering of new classes of vessels, especially the types 22 and 23? When will orders be placed to suit the services so that we can keep our highly skilled personnel?

Mr. Lee

The hon. Gentleman is an extremely skilled parliamentarian. His specific question on frigates comes somewhat lower on the Order Paper. This early question does not really relate to the question on YTS.

Mr. Conway

Are those who do not convert from these schemes to regular service given information that may lead them to enlist in the Territorial Army?

Mr. Lee

I am not aware whether they are given specific information about possible engagement in the Territorial Army. I shall certainly look into that specific suggestion.

Mr. Allen McKay

Would not popularisation of YTS ensure that those who participated in it could, if they wished, join the armed forces afterwards?

Mr. Lee

I shall certainly take up that point.