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Nursery Education

Volume 957: debated on Thursday 9 November 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of children under 5 years of age in Wales receive some form of educational provision by age group and type of provision.

The percentage of children under five years of age in Wales receiving education on a full or part time basis in maintained or non-maintained schools in September 1977 was as follows: in permanent or semi-permanent accommodation that is up to normal barrack standards.

Normal barrack accommodation standards are not applied to units on four-month emergency tours in Northern Ireland. Except in those cases where operational considerations dictate otherwise the accommodation occupied by these units does not compare too unfavourably with that at their permanent stations or with that occupied by the resident battalions.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if weapons will be provided to all members of the Ulster Defence Regiment who request them for personal protection.

Any member of the UDR may apply for a personal protection weapon and will be issued with one if it is assessed that he is under particular threat at home or work.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present strength of the Regular Army in Northern Ireland; and what it was 12 months and 24 months ago.

The present strength of the Regular Army in Northern Ireland is about 13,500. In November 1977 there were about 14,000, and in November 1976 about 14,500 members of the Regular Army in the Province.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether he intends to merge some of the present companies of the Ulster Defence Regiment; and which companies have already been merged;(2) which battalions will be affected by the reorganisation measures of the Ulster Defence Regiment;(3) whether he has received a report from the Army's inspector of establishment on the Ulster Defence Regiment; and what steps he will take to implement the findings of that report.

A report on the Ulster Defence Regiment—UDR—by members of the Army's Inspectorate of Establishments was produced in March of this year. This recommended changes to establishments of battalion and company headquarters and the merging of a number of companies with the purpose of saving overheads and getting more men out on the ground. All UDR battalions are likely to be affected to a greater or lesser extent by these proposals. So far, though, the only amalgamation that has taken place has been the merging of A/B and C companies of 5 UDR.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the current average age of the members of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

The current average age of members of the Ulster Defence Regiment is 33.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he now proposes to use the Ulster Defence Regiment in the front line in the battle against terrorism in Northern Ireland by the IRA.

The primary responsibility for the maintenance of law and order in the Province lies with the Royal Ulster Constabulary; the role of the UDR is to provide military support as required. The introduction of 16 full-time operational platoons has enabled the regiment's participation in security operations to be increased, and it now provides immediate military support for the RUC, wholly or in part, in 11 police divisions.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present strength of the Ulster Defence Regiment; and how many of these are full-time members.

The strength of the Ulster Defence Regiment on 30th September 1978 was 7,851. Of this number, 2,383 were full-time members. The total strength included 731 women, of whom 89 were full-time.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Ulster Defence Regiment have been murdered in the past year; and how these figures compare with the previous years since the regiment was formed.

6 members of the UDR have been murdered this year. Since the formation of the regiment in 1969 the numbers of UDR members killed have been as follows:

April—December
19690
19700
19715
197226
19738
19747
19756
197615
197714