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Volume 456: debated on Wednesday 31 January 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recruitment activity is carried out by the UK armed forces in (a) Bermuda, (b) Gibraltar and (c) other overseas territories; whether recruits to the UK armed forces from Bermuda are exempt from conscription to the Bermuda Regiment; and if he will make a statement. (111517)

Employment in the regular UK armed forces is open to citizens of Commonwealth countries and Republic of Ireland nationals as well as British citizens; all applicants are given equal consideration and all have to meet the same basic entry standards. The armed forces do not generally actively recruit overseas with the exception of Gurkhas from Nepal. However, in recent years the Royal Navy and the Army have sent selection teams to some Commonwealth countries with the permission of the Government concerned, and only then when evidence suggests that there is sufficient interest among the local population to merit a visit. The selection teams screen out those who are not thought capable of meeting the full entry standards, to save them the cost of an abortive trip to the UK to undergo the recruitment process.

There are no planned Royal Navy or Army recruiting visits to any British overseas territory. Royal Air Force careers staff usually visits each sovereign base area once a year. On such occasions a recruiting facility is provided for children of service personnel; a ‘high street’ service is not provided to local residents.

There are no special arrangements regarding Bermudan citizens and conscription to the Bermuda Regiment. However, those wishing to apply to join the UK armed forces must produce an official letter of confirmation of non-reserve liability from the Bermuda authorities before the application can proceed.