The Prime Minister has made a clear commitment to have at least 10% of armed forces recruits from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds by 2020. Increasing the diversity of our workforce is an operational imperative, which is why we have set up a diversity programme. Each service has developed a range of initiatives to achieve this aim. An increasing defence budget and the regeneration of our capabilities will be an attractive proposition to any potential recruit, no matter what background they come from.
Pendle residents have a strong tradition of service in our armed forces. I was pleased that the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment exercised their freedom of the borough of Pendle in May with a parade through the town of Colne. Is my hon. Friend aware of any outreach work being done by our armed forces to ensure that we are recruiting from all of Pendle’s diverse communities, including our sizeable Pakistani heritage community?
I am pleased to tell my hon. Friend that a great deal is being done in the Pendle area in this regard. That same regiment also conducted an adventurous training event over a weekend in May with community leaders from Pendle and surrounding areas, including the chairman of Lancashire council of mosques. The Army will be holding a personal development engagement event at Burnley College and at the mosque in Nelson. As my hon. Friend is aware, the Army promotes regular and reserve opportunities at its annual jobs fair in Pendle, an event my hon. Friend has been instrumental in organising.