We have had a very good debate today. Members of the House have made excellent contributions, but I do not have time to refer to them—I apologise.
It is true to say that our armed forces face enormous problems. They have a huge problem with recruitment and retention and face the scandalous inadequacy of the levels of remuneration for the men and women who are prepared to put their lives on the line to defend this country. Those problems are linked. In a report commissioned by the Prime Minister and published in July this year, Mr Francois talked about a perfect storm against which military recruiters have had to battle. As he said, the regular strength of the UK’s armed forces is some 5% below what was planned. There is also the problem of retention, with more personnel leaving the services than joining them.
Although there are several reasons why the armed forces are in such a predicament, a large part of the blame must rest with how the Army recruits its personnel, for which Capita bears a large measure of responsibility. The “hollowing out” in the ranks, which the right hon. Gentleman referred to in his report, is caused by several factors. Without doubt, the privatisation of Army recruitment and the outsourcing of aspects of recruitment for the other services has played a major role. The poor quality of living accommodation for servicemen and women and their families is another important factor.