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Training Establishments

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 14 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what determination has been made by the Director General of the Training and Education Rationalisation Delivery Group of the appropriate instructor to trainee ratios, including pastoral care and supervisory duties, in each service. [112617]

There are two aspects of instructor to trainee ratios: formal training class size and pastoral care out of working hours. The requirement for supervision varies accordingly. The Ministry of Defence does not currently recommend precise supervisory ratios, but work is in hand to develop policy guidance for Commanding Officers of training establishments.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what work has been done by the Director General of Training and Education to formulating a policy for development of the arts, music and other cultural expression in training establishments. [112626]

None. Under Service regulations, maintenance of morale, personal development and recreation are command functions policy responsibility for which lies with the individual Service Principal Personnel Officers. At a local level, development of the arts, music and cultural expression rests with the individual commanders of training establishments, as part of their command function. Many units have voluntary bands and encourage trainees to join. Many also have theatre and music clubs, which often stage productions. Training establishments support music and the arts in a recreational and developmental context and encourage participation as an adjunct to training in operational skills.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what measures have been taken by the Adjutant General to rectify the staffing shortfalls at (a) the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at Bordon and (b) the Defence School of Transport at Leconfield. [112618]

The Army Training and Recruiting Agency, of which the schools at Bordon and Leconfield are a part, has undertaken a comprehensive review of military establishments at all of its schools. In the case of Bordon and Leconfield, urgent action has been taken to amend the establishments. The Assistant Chief of the General Staff has directed the Army's manning authorities to arrange for suitably qualified personnel to be posted there as a matter of priority in the short term.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what rank of empowered commissioned officer has been appointed at each Army training establishment to enable each recruit and trainee to obtain confidential welfare and other advice; and what steps have been taken to advertise the availability of this officer. [112619]

:Within the Army Training and Recruiting Agency (ATRA), empowered officers are normally of the rank of either Major or Captain and, dependent on the establishment, will either be the Unit Welfare Officer, the Second in Command, the Unit Educational Officer or the Unit Resettlement Officer. At each school, the name and contact details of the officer will be publicised widely using a combination of briefings, Unit Orders, flyers and/or posters. A "credit card" showing useful contact numbers is issued to recruits/trainees at some ATRA establishments and consideration is being given to the issue of a card of standard, robust, design for use by all ATRA establishments.

:To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what direction has been issued by the Director General of Training and Education concerning (a) time for sport in training establishments and (b) sport policy; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [112625]

:A policy for Armed Forces sports is nearing completion. I anticipate that it will be approved during the summer. I will write to the hon Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made by principal personnel officers of the number and quality of Welfare and Emotional Support Projects in initial training establishments; what targets are set for the projects; and if he will place a copy of the project action plans in the Library. [112627]

The Services have already introduced measures to ensure that welfare presentations and training are now included at Initial Training establishments. The Army have ensured that all new recruits receive instruction on welfare services available, access to WRVS, Service Padres and confidential support telephone lines. The RN and RAF have also adopted similar measures and included organisations like The Soldiers, Sailors and Air Forces Association (Forces Help) (SSAFA (FH)) and the Benevolent and Dependants Funds, who have traditionally provided welfare support to the Services and their families. In addition, all three Services have successfully developed Welfare websites that have proved popular with Servicemen and their families. An action plan for continued spreading of good practice is being prepared; a copy of this action plan will be placed in the Library of the House when complete.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken by principal personnel officers to disseminate best practice guidelines on sustaining links between recruits and trainees with their parents during initial training; and if he will place a copy of the guidelines in the Library. [112630]

The Principal Personnel Officers strongly encourage recruits and trainees to sustain links with their parents during initial training. The Naval Service considers that these links are strong, but samples of parents/guardians are to be surveyed on a regular and routine basis to confirm this. Commanding Officers of Army initial training units have for some considerable time now written to, or kept in telephone contact with, parents of recruits aged under 18 years. All Army recruits are also encouraged to maintain contact with parents themselves.Following a recent review of the legal position, RAF guidelines to disseminate best practice are expected to be published shortly. A copy of these guidelines will be placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what library services are available at initial training establishments. [112632]

The following library services are available at initial training establishments:

Royal Navy
Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC)—The library serves 600 students per year and works in conjunction with Exeter and Plymouth Universities. It is extensively used for research, in particular work towards Foundation Degrees, and includes a major collection of Maritime strategic history books.
HMS Raleigh—library forms part of the wider Learning Centre.
Commando Training Centre Lympstone—The library offers a full library service for the Corps of Royal Marines.
Army
The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS)—The library serves some 760 students per year. It focuses on military history, doctrine and international affairs, and is widely used for research.
Army Training Regiment Bassingbourne—A new library is due to open soon.
Army Technical Foundation College Arborfield—General reference, technical and recreational library for students.
Army Foundation College—General reference and recreational library for students.
Royal Air Force
RAF Cranwell—Houses the Trenchard Library, the main RAF library covering recreational and reference materials. It also has a technical library.
RAF Halton—This contains a recreational and reference library within the Learning Centre.
RAF Honington—Houses a large recreational and reference library.
The library facilities listed above generally include good internet and computer training facilities in addition to their stock of books, videos and periodicals.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment has been made by principal personnel officers of the recreational facilities at Army training establishments; how many (a) non-alcohol cafes, (b) internet facilities and (c) quiet areas have been established in the past 12 months; what targets have been set in the form of an action plan; and if he will place a copy in the Library. [112623]

The Army Training and Recruiting Agency (ATRA) is currently conducting a comprehensive survey of these facilities at all of its establishments. The number of facilities established during 2002 and in 2003 to the current date is as follows:

  • non-alcohol cafes: 8
  • internet facilities: 19 (plus 60 personal IT equipment in individual's rooms)
  • quiet areas: 26
Once this survey is completed, a new scaling requirement and action plan will be developed.