asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to cut back the activities of display teams in the RAF.
I have no plans at present further to curtail the activities of the RAF display teams beyond the significant reductions imposed last year by the need to conserve manpower, money and fuel.
Will my hon. Friend say how many such display teams there are and what is their total cost? Will he confirm that the cost of running the Red Arrows last year was more than £800,000? One appreciates the technical skill of the Red Arrows, but is it advisable at the present time to continue their flying at that cost? Do these display teams have any significant effect upon recruitment?
Six flying teams are at present organising and there is one ground display team. As for recruiting and value for money, without going into the precise costs at this stage I can assure my hon. Friend that we are satisfied that such displays of great expertise have a significant effect on recruiting and are worth while. However, we are always looking at ways of securing greater value for money.
Does the Minister appreciate that his announcement is very welcome particularly in areas which have had the benefit of seeing these displays including events on the coast? Does he agree that it does a good deal for the RAF's prestige and a good deal to encourage youth to join the Royal Air Force?
We believe that the exercise is worth while in terms of public relations for the Royal Air Force and in terms of recruitment.