HC Deb 20 April 1993 vol 223 cc173-4
9. Mr. Davidson

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many service personnel have been issued with compulsory redundancy notices since the beginning of 1993.

Mr. Archie Hamilton

Since the beginning of 1993, 628 Army officers have been selected for compulsory redundancy.

Mr. Davidson

How many redundant officers does the Minister expect will find work elsewhere in the present circumstances of mass unemployment? Does he accept that the existing training and resettlement package is completely inadequate and does he agree that Ministry of Defence money should be used to create jobs rather than destroy them? Will he bring forward the announcement that the new Army personnel centre is being moved to the borders of my constituency in Glasgow?

Mr. Hamilton

I totally reject everything that the hon. Gentleman says. Our figures show that 70 per cent. of officers who left on redundancy during 1992–93 have either found jobs or moved overseas. That is a great mark of the efficiency of our resettlement schemes and of the suitability of the service men who leave to find jobs outside the Army. They are offering a tremendous amount to civilian life.

There is still work to be done on the Army personnel centre, but we are moving towards a decision and we will make one as soon as we can.

Mr. David Evans

Does the Minister agree that it is a bit rich for Opposition Members to talk about redundancies in Army personnel when their defence policy talks of a 25 per cent. reduction? How many thousands of people would that policy make redundant? After all, as the Minister knows, that lot over there know about redundancies because they have been redundant for 14 years.

Mr. Hamilton

There is not much that I can add to my hon. Friend's remarks: he put it extremely well. There is no doubt whatever that at some stage the Labour party must shake off its resolution, which seems to be passed annually by its conference, that defence expenditure should be cut by the large percentages that Labour Members are always talking about.

Mr. Martlew

During the Army debate on 24 February this year, my hon. Friend the Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) brought to the attention of the House the fact that a number of soldiers serving with the Cheshire regiment in Bosnia had applied for redundancy only because their regiment was to be amalgamated. They wished to withdraw those applications when it was decided that the Cheshire regiment should be saved. The Minister refused to allow them to withdraw their notices, but said that they could appeal against them. He also said that he would take a personal interest in the matter. How many appeals were made and were any of them turned down?

Mr. Hamilton

I do not have that information at my fingertips. I made it clear that the soldiers were in a position to appeal and that their appeals would be sympathetically considered. I will check on the position and write to the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. John Greenway

Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the issue of the integrated Army personnel centre is still not resolved and that he is still considering York as a possible location for the centre? Does he acknowledge the attraction of York, both in terms of its location in the centre of the United Kingdom and the excellent MOD personnel who are already employed there?

Mr. Hamilton

Yes, indeed. One of the important criteria that we have used is that there should be core numbers of employed people already working in an Army personnel centre and that is one of the advantages that York gives us. Having said that, there is also the consideration, which militates against York, that we may decide in favour of an existing building rather than go for building a new one on a green-field site. Certainly, York is still within the frame and has not been ruled out.