HC Deb 03 February 1989 vol 146 cc443-4W
Mr. Key

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures his Department is taking to deal with the expected shortfall in manpower in the 1990s.

Mr. Stern

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has any proposals to increase the numbers of young people enlisting in the armed forces.

Mr. Neubert

In 1994 the number of young men in the United Kingdom aged between 16 and 19 will have fallen by around 23 per cent. compared with current levels and by 30 per cent. compared with the peak in 1983. The armed forces are tackling this problem in a variety of ways and are carrying out a number of studies. For example, expenditure on recruitment advertising is being increased and measures aimed at improving the retention of trained personnel are being taken. We are also increasing the career opportunities for women and examining how to attract more recruits from the ethnic minorities. We will ensure that pay, allowances and conditions of service are such that a career in the armed services remains attractive to young people.

With regard to civilian staff, we are continuing to identify ways of making the most efficient use of manpower, while at the same time making considerable efforts to attract and retain the staff we need to fill those posts which it is essential should remain within the Civil Service. I am hopeful that new flexible pay agreements, improved recruitment publicity and, for example, the greater scope for encouraging people from older age groups and part-time staff will enable us to achieve this.