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Territorial Army (Recruitment)

Volume 563: debated on Wednesday 5 June 2013

7. What steps she is taking to ensure that recruitment for the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland meets recruitment targets. (157241)

Naturally, this is a matter for the Ministry of Defence, but both my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and I take a keen interest in the military across the board in Northern Ireland. We meet regularly our colleagues in the Ministry of Defence and with 38 Brigade, as well as talking to the reserve forces and the cadets.

They never had to conscript the people in Northern Ireland to join the Army; they were volunteers, in both the British Army and the Territorial Army. Numbers of recruits to the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland are at their highest ever. It is important that the numbers are maintained so that others continue to have the opportunity. What steps is the Minister taking to work with employers and employees to ensure that that happens?

Encouraging employers and employees to join the Territorial Army in Northern Ireland has never been really difficult, to be fair, and individuals from Northern Ireland disproportionately represent themselves, proudly, across the United Kingdom armed forces. Nearly 20% of deployments come from Northern Ireland, and on Sunday I will be at the medals parade for 204 Royal Army Medical Corps Territorial Army, when they return from Northern Ireland.

I have done my bit in the past couple of weeks by becoming honorary colonel of 2nd Battalion the Royal Irish Cadets—something I was very proud to take on.