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Recruits (Wastage)

Volume 894: debated on Tuesday 24 June 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will investigate the amount of wastage among young recruits to Her Majesty's Forces; and if he will make a statement.

Investigations are already under way into the extent and causes of wastage. At this stage, therefore, I have nothing to add to the reply I gave my hon. Friend on 11th March this year.

Does my hon. Friend consider that one of the probable reasons is the unrealistic and misleading recruitment advertising campaign on television, which projects a picture of Army conditions which are more in keeping with Billy Butlin's holiday camp than reality? On reflection, as many young persons are anxious to leave the Services, will the Minister please consider allowing these young people to interrupt their apprenticeships after, say, three years and leave them the option of leaving or staying on?

I do not know where my hon. Friend has seen the advertisements to which he has referred. If, however, he seriously thinks that there are advertisements which are misleading, I hope he will refer me to specific examples. It is my experience, having looked at all the recruiting material recently introduced, that the Forces are, as never before, giving a realistic picture of what life will be like in the Services, for the Services' self-protection, to avoid the wastage which my hon. Friend obviously wants to avoid.

We have gone a long way towards providing a more flexible career for young people entering the Services. However, I shall be glad to look at my hon. Friend's suggestion and let him have my views on it.

Does the Minister accept that there is great disillusionment among young Service personnel following the recent pay review? Owing to the extra charges which they must suffer at the same time, young Service people receive nothing like the amount of increase that was announced.

If there is disillusionment, I am sorry. That is not my experience after talking to probably as many young Service men as the hon. Gentleman. We set up an independent pay review body. Our commitment—the commitment of any Government—is to implement the results of that review. That is exactly what we did.