§ 40. Mr. Stephen O'Brien
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many armed services personnel there were on 1 May 1997; what the current numbers are; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Spellar
As at 1 May 1997 the trained strength of the armed forces was 196,857 although there were plans in hand at that time to reduce the trained requirement.
Since then the trained requirement of the Naval service and the RAF has been reduced by about 7,800, reflected in the reduction in trained strength. The Army requirement increased by some 3,000 as a result of SDR.
On 1 September 2000, the trained strength of the armed forces was 189,470.
We aim to reach broad manning balance in the Naval service in Financial Year 2002–03 and in the Army in Financial Year 2004–05. The RAF is in broad manning balance but this masks surpluses and, more importantly, deficits in a number of branches and trades, e.g. shortfall of fast jet pilots, navigators, engineering and medical officers.