§ Mr. Best
asked the Secretary of State for Defence why he decided to reduce the number of man-training days for Territorial Army independent units from 44 to 37; what is the estimated annual saving; what consultation he had and with whom; and what is the estimated effect upon recruitment and retention of manpower.
§ Mr. Goodhart
Estimates for expenditure on man-training days in the TA are based on historical level of usage, although some individuals do more than 75 days many do less: for 1979–80 the average was 38. As part of the measures to contain expenditure in the defence budget, some economies are having to be made in planned expenditure on TA training days. We expect, however, to be able to achieve an average of 38 days next year as well.
Consultation with interested parties did take place. The secretary of the Council of TAVRAs and secretaries of associations were kept informed of the general trend of these measures. Despite the savings we still plan to spend more in total on man-training days next year than this as strengths will be higher because of recent favourable recruiting trends. The TA is accorded high priority within the defence programme and we would not expect those savings to have an adverse effect on recruitment or retention.