The Government and the Royal Navy recognise the benefits of supporting the Sea Cadets and provide support through a grant in aid payment. This is paid to the Marine Society & Sea Cadets through a memorandum of understanding, which also sets out further support with regard to the provision of personnel, accommodation and training.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting the Padstow Sea Cadets and their chairman, and fantastic work is done there. The chairman expressed concerns to me about some of their fixed costs, such as some of their utilities, insurance premiums, transport costs and tuition fees. Will the Minister look at this again, and see if he could make a contribution to the fixed costs of the service?
The grant in aid payment to the Marine Society & Sea Cadets is currently £10 million. The MOU between the Royal Navy and the MSSC, which is currently under review, will ensure that there continues to be Royal Navy support for the Sea Cadets. I would be more than happy to ensure that discussions on property issues will continue.
It must be said that female representation in the Sea Cadets is actually higher than it is in the armed forces, but it is a matter that the Government take very seriously. We have set several targets to ensure that our armed forces are viewed as being open to both men and women, and we will continue to pursue that over the coming years.
I think Milton Keynes may actually be further from the sea than Kettering, and we also have a thriving Sea Cadet unit. I am a great fan of the cadets. I started my military life in the Air Cadets some 32 years ago. It is something that I valued enormously. That is why I like to think that I am one of the greatest champions for the cadet forces.