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Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:21 pm on 29th March 2006.

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Photo of Lord Drayson Lord Drayson Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Defence Procurement), Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (Procurement) 4:21 pm, 29th March 2006

My Lords, my noble friend is correct to point out that the rate of suicide among under-20s is higher in certain subsets of the community and the general population, particularly within the British Army when compared with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. Encouragingly, there has in past years been a clear downward trend in the rate and significant improvement. There is now no statistical difference in the suicide rate among under-20s in the general population and that among those in the Armed Forces.

I do not know the position regarding the SSAFA charitable helpline which my noble friend mentions. I shall look into it and write to him. But I can confirm that the Ministry of Defence operates an increasing number of innovative approaches to ensure that people have access to mechanisms enabling them to report abuse, the most recent one being a confidential texting service. We are making available considerable additional resources to provide people with modern and easy ways to report abuse. I also stress that we regard it as an essential part of leadership that anyone who sees abuse taking place should regard it as incumbent on themselves to report it and make sure that something is done about it.