§ Mr. McNamara
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made in halting degrading and demeaning initiation rites and ceremonies in HM armed forces; and in what regiments these practices are known to persist. 744W
§ Mr. Ingram
If, any degrading or demeaning initiation ceremonies were found to exist they would be dealt with swiftly. It is made routinely clear to all armed forces personnel that forcing compliance with initiation rites is classed as bullying and is quite unacceptable. The new armed forces diversity policy goal will aim to achieve an environment free from harassment, intimidation and unlawful discrimination, in which all have equal opportunity and encouragement to realise their full potential. This position is reinforced through single service values and standards and equal opportunities policies, and was reflected in the Armed Forces Code of Social Conduct issued to all personnel in January 2000, where clear guidance was given on what is considered inappropriate personal behaviour within the armed forces. All of these measures are, of course, regularly reviewed and reinforced as necessary.