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Recruits (Discharge)

Volume 640: debated on Wednesday 10 May 1961

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asked the Secretary of State for War what percentage of the recruits enlisted in 1959 have now either been discharged or bought themselves out; and what was the cost to the Army in money and manpower of training these men.

Twenty-five per cent. of which just over one-third bought themselves out. It is not practicable to assess the cost in training manpower, but in money terms the cost would be about £1¾ million.

Are not these figures a little disturbing, since it was thought that one of the advantages of the volunteer Army would be that it would save in the training of manpower? Will the War Office take this problem very seriously?

Yes, but I think that we must keep the problem in perspective. As the House knows, my right hon. Friend is well aware of the problem of wastage by purchase during the early months of a man's service, and is taking steps to try to contain it, but 14 per cent. of this number are accounted for by discharge on medical grounds and other reasons, such as that their service was no longer required.

Does the hon. Gentleman realise that if one can solve this problem it will go a long way towards solving the extraordinary crisis in recruiting? Is he aware that there is a great difference between units in their success or failure in retaining recruits? What has been done to ensure that less successful units learn from the more successful ones?

There is the long-term study by the Army Operational Research Group to investigate in more detail the cause of excessive wastage, which is not yet fully understood. We shall take action when we receive that. Apart from that there are measures proposed by the Select Committee to which, I hope, the House may give effect later.