HC Deb 11 June 2002 vol 386 c1165W
Dr. Palmer

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what future targets have been set to achieve higher ethnic minority representation in the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. [61246]

Mr. Ingram

The armed forces are seeking an approach that recognises and values diversity, without in any way compromising their commitment to comply with equality legislation and eradicate any form of harassment, intimidation or unlawful discrimination. The new diversity policy has been embodied in a revised Armed Forces Personnel Strategy Guideline, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House; this sets out the armed forces' diversity goal, and the principles which underpin it, and seeks to define diversity in a military context, demonstrating its importance for the achievement of operational effectiveness while recognising the unique circumstances of the armed forces.

The armed forces are determined to become more representative of the ethnically diverse society they serve. Targets remain an important means of achieving this. For the future, I have agreed that this year's target should be for each service to increase recruitment of ethnic minorities by a further 1 per cent. of all recruits, subject to an overall target of 6 per cent. This marks the continuation of the major drive by the armed forces over the past four years to attain a proper share of talent available in the ethnic communities. Future goals for ethnic minority representation and recruitment will be set in the coming year, taking account of the results of the ethnic origin resurvey of armed forces personnel currently under way, ethnic minority recruiting achievement and evidence on ethnic minority numbers likely to emerge from the 2001 national census.