Julian Brazier: This Government believe we can, and indeed will, succeed in reforming and renegotiating our relationship with the EU. The cornerstone of our security is NATO, but the EU plays an important role complementing NATO, for example recently in imposing sanctions on Russia. Defence remains a sovereign issue.
Julian Brazier: I can only repeat my earlier answer. We are confident that the renegotiation will succeed. The hon. Gentleman is right to say that the mission to which he refers, and others including the anti-piracy mission off the horn of Africa, have been a success.
Julian Brazier: My hon. Friend is not going to tempt me into speculating about what might happen after a withdrawal. I will say, however, that I am delighted to be part of a Government who are committed to spending 2% of GDP on defence, and I think that he is going to enjoy the announcement at 3.30 pm.
Julian Brazier: What a pleasure it is to respond to the debate under your chairmanship, Sir Roger. I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr Hollobone) on securing the debate and on his remarkable, predictably thoroughly researched and self-effacing speech. The debate takes place as we remember the first world war, in which the then Territorial Force won 71 Victoria Crosses, and the Battle...
Julian Brazier: I have written to my hon. Friend and I will write to him again. The ongoing costs of the recruiting process have shown some significant savings, but it is difficult to separate regulars and reserves because they are in the same contract. If he is referring to the contingency costs of deploying reserves on operations, there is a cost associated, but it is a cost that is paid for only when...
Julian Brazier: My hon. and gallant Friend is generous in giving way. Dad’s Army was not on the Normandy beaches as it was a home defence force, but the Territorial Army most certainly was there. A division helped to hold the line at Dunkirk and, indeed, a national guard division on its own took Omaha beach.
Julian Brazier: I am avoiding making interventions because time is so short and so many people want to speak, but I shall, given that the hon. Gentleman has to leave. We have not only expanded the provision for employers in general when people are mobilised, but have introduced a supplementary £500 per month per individual mobilised for small and medium-sized enterprises. However, I welcome his point.
Julian Brazier: On that specific point, my hon. Friend will be aware that in the past few years the reserves have provided the framework unit for half of all the rotations in Helmand. There is indeed a range of practice, but we are working hard with the NHS, and many of the award-winning employers are in fact NHS trusts.
Julian Brazier: Cadet forces offer young people the chance to develop character and essential skills in units based in schools and in the community. The coalition Government funded 100 extra units in schools, and this Government have committed an extra £50 million to increase the number by about 145, which will bring the total number in the United Kingdom to 500 by 2020.
Julian Brazier: Those 145 extra units will all be in state schools. One of the new school cadet forces that we have formed is in north-east England and started against a very difficult background, but it is now so successful that pupils are required to show that they have completed a full year of good attendance and good behaviour before they can join it.
Julian Brazier: I am most envious of my hon. Friend: I am afraid that I only made lance corporal in the CCF. His invitation is very tempting. I will be making a number of visits to CCFs—indeed, I was with the sea cadets yesterday, Trafalgar day, in Trafalgar Square —but I cannot promise an immediate visit to his constituency.
Julian Brazier: My hon. Friend has made an excellent point. There are four community units in my constituency, as well as two CCFs, and another is being formed under the new programme. One of our key criteria for the new units is that they must not clash with existing successful community units. Some of the new units that we are setting up in schools are in the community rather than the CCF programme.
Julian Brazier: That is a very good question. The short answer is that we are focusing the 145 new units in areas where there is the most deprivation and the least opportunity to join existing successful community units.
Julian Brazier: I thank my dear friend opposite—I am not allowed to call him my hon. Friend—for his kind words. I was very pleased to meet his air cadets on the Terrace of the House of Commons with him last year. The answer to his question is very firmly yes. We support cadets both in communities and in schools, and the new programme will be designed to be complementary, filling in gaps rather than...
Julian Brazier: I welcome the hon. Lady to her place as shadow Minister and thank her for the support for cadet units. I am delighted to give her the assurance she seeks. The new units will be set up in areas where there is no existing community provision. They will not be in competition with existing successful community units.
Julian Brazier: rose—
Julian Brazier: I congratulate my hon. Friend on his position. We are extremely keen to improve opportunities for flying. We currently have a recovery programme, following the temporary suspension of the gliding programme. I share his enthusiasm, as I too have an air cadet force in my constituency.
Julian Brazier: Six thousand, eight hundred and ten personnel joined the reserve forces in the last financial year, an increase of 65% on the year before. We have made significant improvements to recruiting processes, the offer to reservists and the support we give employers. As a result, recruitment continues to improve, and we remain committed to meeting our overall target.
Julian Brazier: I share my hon. Friend’s delight both at the announcement of the 2% commitment and at the fact that we have been able to save the centre in Burton. He will be aware that 4 Mercian, which has a detachment there, has recently been deployed in a number of interesting exercises, as well as providing two formed platoons for an operational deployment in Cyprus.
Julian Brazier: This year, we have already awarded 160 new bronze awards and 25 new silver awards for employers. We are also building links between companies in industry sectors and their equivalent reserves. For example, the Royal Signals is formalising links with BT, Vodafone, HP and Virgin Media; Defence Medical Services has an excellent arrangement with the NHS; and the Military Provost Service is...