§ 38. Fiona Mactaggart
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to help young unemployed people who want to join the armed forces attain the necessary fitness levels. 
§ Mr. Spellar
Fitness levels found in the average young person have been in decline for some time. On the other hand, the fitness standards required of armed forces' recruits by the end of their training have not been reduced. Consequently, in addition to tailored fitness training programmes during recruit training, the Services recognise the need to give guidance to initial applicants, who may include the young unemployed, on the issue of physical fitness to enable them to attain the high level of fitness required to pass recruit training. The Naval Service issues a pre-joining fitness programme booklet to all potential recruits. The length of the programme lasts four weeks for officers and ratings, and eight weeks for Royal Marine other ranks applicants. If an Army recruiter believes that a potential applicant should take action to improve his/her fitness, he/she is given a video and a pamphlet which describe the training that should be undertaken. Similarly, all RAF recruits are given a booklet on physical fitness training prior to commencement of Recruit Training.