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Cadet Forces

Volume 554: debated on Monday 26 November 2012

As announced by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister on Armed Forces day, the Department for Education and the Ministry of Defence are working together to enable 100 more state-funded schools to have cadet units by 2015. The extra cadet units will be formed through partnerships with existing units, or by self-standing new units, both using third-party sponsorship funding. The departments have identified £10.85 million to meet the programme’s training and equipment costs. More than 50 schools have already registered their interest, and the joint departmental team, supported by the reserve forces and cadets associations, will work with schools to develop the most appropriate cadet option for them.

I welcome my right hon. Friend’s answer. I recently had the pleasure of attending my local sea cadets, TS Deva, which like other sea cadet groups does not receive much financial assistance from the Ministry of Defence. Has my right hon. Friend considered whether the MOD could provide more support to sea cadets?

I commend my hon. Friend for supporting the cadet movement in his constituency, which I am sure will be genuinely grateful for his support. Sea Cadets receives financial assistance from the Ministry of Defence, and as part of the memorandum of understanding it received £8 million as grant in aid from the Royal Navy. It also raises money from trusts and legacies and through fund raising events locally and more widely. We wish it every success in its endeavours.

In my constituency of Erewash we are lucky enough to have fine cadets across all the armed forces, learning skills and providing exemplary services to the community. Does my right hon. Friend agree that the best way of promoting cadets is to support the community work they undertake across the country?

I am happy to agree with my hon. Friend’s assertion. Activities such as those offered by the cadets and inviting armed service leaders into the classroom help to instil qualities such as confidence, self-discipline and responsibility, while developing team work and leadership skills. Experience from the military and education sectors has demonstrated how those core values can help pupils reach their academic potential and become well rounded and accomplished adults, fully prepared for life beyond school. The Government very much encourage the movement, and I am grateful that my hon. Friend gives it her personal support.

I support the Minister in what he is trying to do and draw his attention to the excellent work carried out at Walker Technology college and Heaton Manor school in my constituency. Is a core problem the way in which the BTEC in uniformed public services counts towards the evaluation of state-funded schools more generally? I know the Education Secretary is aware of that problem, and it will have to be overcome if cadet forces are to flourish in state schools.

The right hon. Gentleman knows that part of the new programme of expansion is deliberately aimed at state schools—I take it he welcomes that. I take on board the point about the BTEC. I recently met Lord Hill, the Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Education, to discuss how we can further increase the cadet movement in schools, and when we next meet I will ensure the issue is on the agenda. It would be helpful if the right hon. Gentleman and some of his colleagues used their links with the trade union movement to ensure the fullest possible participation among trade unions in helping to support cadet units.

Will the Minister join me in congratulating the air cadets of 2344 (Longbenton) Squadron on being made the Newcastle Evening Chronicle’s children and young people’s champion 2012 for their outstanding work with young people? Does the success of that exemplary cadet squadron show how important it is for the Minister to increase the number of cadet forces across all our communities?

I am glad to add congratulations from the Dispatch Box to those of the hon. Lady, and I hope they will appear prominently in her local newspaper. She might be aware that the cadet movement has more than 140,000 members, of whom at the latest count 35,700 are members of the Air Training Corps. As the House has heard, the Government are trying to increase those numbers further because we appreciate the values that cadets bring to our society.