Army Recruitment

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

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Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the figures for re-engagement in the Army.

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

The prolongation rate for men who originally enlisted on a 6-year engagement was 50 per cent. in the last financial year. This compares with 35 per cent, in 1964. Last year the prolongation rates for the 9- and 12-year men were 53 per cent. and 91 per cent, respectively. This is on the whole satisfactory.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

The figure of 50 per cent. for the six-year engagement can obviously be improved upon. Has the hon. Gentleman thought that it might be a good idea to tell the forces what their pay will be next year?

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

On pay, no doubt the hon. Member has read the report of the National Board for Prices and Incomes. On the first part of the supplementary question, of course it could be improved. I am happy to say that we have improved it by no less than 15 per cent. since 1964.

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what new steps he is taking to improve Army recruiting.

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

I have nothing of substance to add to the reply by my hon. Friend the Minister of Defence for Administration given on 15th October. I am glad to say that Army recruiting is much improved since last year.—[Vol. 788, c. 77.]

Photo of Mr James Allason Mr James Allason , Hemel Hempstead

Nevertheless the figures for this year are very worrying. Has the Minister considered employing anyone of the capacity of the late Sir Frederick Hooper, who did so much for Army recruiting eight years ago?

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

I think it much too early to get any accurate assessment of how this year's figures will compare in total with last year's. On the figures so far available there is a substantial improvemen and we are hopeful that it will be maintained.

Photo of Mr James Ramsden Mr James Ramsden , Harrogate

Is it not a fact that there are to be considerable increases in the current and prospective expenditure on the recruiting effort? If this is true, would it not have been better to have made the increases two years ago before we got into the present rut?

Photo of Mr Ivor Richard Mr Ivor Richard , Barons Court

It is certainly true that the Army is looking at ways and means of increasing the recruitment figures but to do that now against a background of relative success seems more appropriate than it was perhaps two years ago.