Reserve Forces (Training)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 19 May 1981.

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Photo of Mr Neil Thorne Mr Neil Thorne , Ilford South 12:00, 19 May 1981

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied that the quota of man training days available to the reserve forces is adequate for their role within the integral national defence system.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

The number of man training days available to the reserve forces this year should be sufficient to allow them to train for their key operational roles. We do, of course, keep the standard of training and effectiveness of the Territorial Army under close review.

Photo of Mr Neil Thorne Mr Neil Thorne , Ilford South

Does my hon. Friend accept that, in the past, man training days were calculated in relation to total established strengths and, more recently, as those established strengths have been reached by recruiting, there are fewer man training days to go around? For that reason, there is a great shortage of man training days, which does not allow the Territorial Army to be as efficient as it could be and to fulfil the role which it wishes to take in the defence of the realm.

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

I shall bear my hon. Friend's point in mind. I ask him to bear it in mind that the number of man training days available has increased from 2 million in 1979 to 2½ million this year.

Photo of Mr Keith Best Mr Keith Best , Anglesey

Will my hon. Friend acknowledge the dangers of diminution in the morale of territorial soldiers if they see the man training days progressively diminished, and the dangers of that to the overall defence of the nation?

Photo of Mr Philip Goodhart Mr Philip Goodhart , Beckenham

Overall, the number of man training days is increasing. The number of recruits in the Territorial Army is increasing rapidly, and retention, which my hon. Friend will recognise is of great importance, is also improving dramatically.