§ Mr. Spring
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of morale in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. George Robertson
From my regular visits to Service units and those of my Ministerial colleagues, and discussions within the Ministry of Defence, I assess morale in the Armed Forces at present to be satisfactory. I greatly admire the achievements and sense of purpose of our Servicemen and women. In my experience, they are keen to get on with their jobs, are aware that they are highly valued by the nation and are committed to the operational challenges they face. There are undoubtedly some feelings of uncertainty, and problems in some areas caused, in large part, by longstanding overstretch and undermanning inherited by this administration. One of the main aims of the Strategic Defence Review is to balance our operational commitments and the needs of Service personnel and their families. The openness of the review process will have reassured our forces that it is different from other reviews.