§ Mr. Soames
This matter is the responsibility of the chief executive of the Naval Manning Agency. I have asked the chief executive to write to the hon. Member.
Letter from F. M. Malbon to Mr. Robert Key, dated 19 November 1996I am replying to your Question to the Secretary of State for Defence about the number of unfilled billets on operational ships of the Royal Navy, as this matter falls within my area of responsibility as Chief Executive of the Naval Manning Agency.Currently, 28 RN officer and 560 RN rating. billets in operational ships, submarines, front line squadrons and ships' flights are unfilled, representing, respectively, 1.7% and 4.6% of the total of such billets.The deployment of sufficient suitably skilled and experienced manpower to individual billets and management of a progressive reduction in manpower gapping are prime objectives of the Naval Manning Agency. The Agency's Corporate Plan, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library, states that the NMA will seek to fill more than 93% of total officer billets and 93.5% of total rating/other rank billets in 1996/1997. Priority is given to those ships, submarines, squadrons and units engaged in high priority operations.I hope this is helpful.