HC Deb 07 May 1996 vol 277 cc10-1
10. Mr. Riddick

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the educational advantages that membership of the cadet forces gives to its members. [26928]

Mr. Soames

My colleagues and I are very much aware of the splendid benefit that the cadet force organisations can bring to the education and well being of young people in this country. It is important that parents and teachers alike recognise the wonderful opportunities that membership brings to the broad education of the young.

Mr. Riddick

Is my hon. Friend aware that there are active squadrons of the air training corps in Holmfirth and Huddersfield in my constituency and that they both play a valuable role in local community service? Does he agree that the education of those youngsters should include the facts about the Labour party's natural aspirations to cut defence spending by billions of pounds, so that the country's young people are aware that the nation's defences would not be safe under a Labour Government?

Mr. Soames

My hon. Friend is completely right, of course. I join him in paying tribute to the air training corps in Huddersfield, which on average parades 60 cadets, and in Holmfirth, which on average parades 30 cadets. They have an exceptional record in the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and an excellent commitment to community service. I also pay tribute to those who take part in the cadet forces, especially all the adults who give up their time to help and provide leadership. Frankly, the less the young know about Labour party policies the better.

Ms Walley

Will the Minister also pay tribute to the air training corps in my constituency? Does he share my concern, having read page 11 of today's edition of The Daily Telegraph, that the future of RAF flying teachers might be in jeopardy? Where will that leave the ATC? The Government have cut costs so much that they have effectively done away with the RAF flying instructors on which the ATC depends.

Mr. Soames

I certainly pay tribute to the air training corps in the hon. Lady's constituency. I am sure that there, as in all hon. Members' constituencies, it does a marvellous job and stands as a beacon in the communities in which it serves. On flying training, the hon. Lady, not for the first time, has got the wrong end of the stick. I can assure her without any diffidence that the air cadets will get all the flying to which they are entitled. Indeed, it is the MoD's aspiration to provide more and not less flying.