HC Deb 26 October 1999 vol 336 cc766-7W
Mr. Bercow

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list total manpower commitments for the Armed Forces in each year since 1995; and what has been the total manpower available in each year. [95324]

Mr. Spellar

We do not hold information on total manpower commitments in the form that the hon. Member requests. These will vary at any point in a year depending on the circumstances. The total trained strength of the Armed Forces, including Gurkhas, on 1 April of each year since 1995 was as follows:

1 April 1995 226,328
1 April 1996 212,164
1 April 1997 197,390
1 April 1998 193,914
1 April 1999 190,506

Our commitment to achieve full manning in all three Services is a key component of the Strategic Defence Review (SDR). Recruiting is buoyant; for example, the Army have just had their best recruiting year this decade, and each Service is taking vigorous steps to tackle the problem of retention.