Armed Forces Personnel

Defence – in the House of Commons on 3rd February 2020.

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Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons)

What recent assessment he has made of trends in the number of armed forces personnel.

Hon. Members::

Come on!

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

I am not very well, Mr Speaker. It is not coronavirus; it is worse—it is man flu. It would have seen the Secretary of State in bed for a week.

We remain committed to maintaining the overall size of the armed forces, and a range of measures to improve recruitment and retention is under way. Those measures are kept under constant review. Importantly, the services continue to meet all their current commitments, keeping the country and its interests safe.

Photo of Jessica Morden Jessica Morden Opposition Whip (Commons)

Independent analysis by the House of Commons Library has found that Army numbers could fall to just 65,000 by the end of this Parliament if the current rate of decline continues. Instead of giving us more warm words, can the Minister tell us what specific steps his Department is taking to avoid that?

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

On recruitment, we are at just under 100% of our year-long target, which comes round in April. More people are looking to join the Army than we have seen since 2010. There is a massively positive story to tell. There are no plans to reduce the number of armed forces personnel. It is a fantastic time to join up.