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Recruiting (Advertising Costs)

Volume 932: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1977

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7.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total amount of money spent on advertising designed to recruit people into Her Majesty's Forces in the latest period for which figures are available.

About £3·35 million according to latest estimates for the financial year which has just ended. Most of this expenditure was borne by the Central Office of Information.

Does my hon. Friend agree that this represents a large amount of money available for Government advertising? As most people are aware of the existence of Her Majesty's Forces and as a large number of people are not aware of some of their entitlements to social benefits, will my hon. Friend consider discussing with his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services how some of the money might be more usefully utilised for advertising the benefits that people are not claiming?

My hon. Friend raises an interesting point, which it would be more appropriate to ask of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.

Armed Forces advertising expenditure is about right for the specialised advertising that we have to undertake to recruit the people that we need. I have no doubt that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will hear of my hon. Friend's supplementary question.

I congratulate the Minister on the advertisement in The Times today, which illustrated luscious wages for those who enter the Army and, in particular, showed that a major is paid approximately the same as a Member of Parliament.

I am glad that that advertisement in The Times for recruiting Army officers shows that, despite the distortion that has been made in some quarters about the recent Armed Forces pay award, the Army, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy still offer rewarding careers, great prospects and decent remuneration for those who wish to undertake such exciting and honourable careers.

It is, on average, about £600 per recruit across the three Services. I believe that that is too high. That is why the Department and myself in particular are taking urgent steps to see whether the unacceptably high level of advertising cost can be reduced.