§ 50. Mr. Andrew Mitchell
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps his Department proposes to take to give greater national publicity to the role of the reserve forces.
§ Mr. Freeman
In addition to the regular cycle of recruiting compaigns which bring the role of the reserve forces to the attention of the public, this year will see a major innovation in the form of the publicity campaign recommended by the national employer liaison committee, the funding for which was recently announced in the House. The precise details of this campaign have yet to be finalised but its central theme will be the promotion of general public awareness of the reserve forces by means of stressing the advantages of membership to both the individual and employers and by clearly setting out the vital role occupied by these volunteer forces.
§ 70. Mr. Jessel
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress made in expanding the volunteer reserves.
§ Mr. Freeman
Since 1979, when expansion measures were first set in hand by the Government, the combined strength of the volunteer reserves, not including the Ulster Defence regiment, has increased by about 32 per cent. to some 87,500. Since 1979 the strength of the TA has increased by some 15,900, with a further 3,200 for the Territorial Army's Home Service Force. During a similar period the combined strength of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve has risen by some 1,320, and the Royal Marines Reserve by about 520. Finally, since the decision to expand the Royal Naval Reserve in 1984 the strength of that reserve has risen by over 400.