HC Deb 27 November 2003 vol 415 c32WS
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Ivor Caplin)

The Army Training and Recruiting Agency (ATRA) currently runs a 28 week course for junior soldiers at the Army Technical Foundation College (ATFC) at Rowcroft Barracks, Arborfield. The Course is aimed at recruits to the Royal Engineers (RE), the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME), the Royal Signals (R Signals) and the Royal Logistics Corps (RLC).

Amongst REME recruits especially the quality of output from the College has not been high enough. This has resulted in failure at Phase 2 specialist training by an unacceptably high number of individuals. ATRA has considered a number of ways of addressing this problem and has come to the conclusion that the best solution entails the closure of the College and the transfer of students to, principally, the Army Foundation College (AFC) at Harrogate, where a new technical training stream will be introduced. There will be other changes to the way in which junior recruits are trained within ATRA, but these will not involve closures of any other establishments.

No final decision regarding the closure date has yet been taken. I have given approval in principle to this course of action and ATRA is undertaking a full consultation exercise with the relevant Trades Unions. This is expected to take until January 2004, at which time I will consider the outcome, come to a conclusion and advise the House accordingly.