DEFENCE – VOLUNTEER RESERVE MEDALS – 11 April 2002
Dr Julian Lewis: Is it not a fact that the Territorial Army is at present about 1,300 below the strength anticipated at the time of the strategic defence review? Would the Secretary of State care to consider that one way of keeping the Reserve Forces up to strength would be to revisit what was done in 1999, when the Reserve Decoration and the Territorial Decoration were extended to all ranks, but nobody was allowed to put letters after their name any more? Would it not be a tremendous boost to the Reserve Forces and an incentive for people to renew their commitments if those people who get the volunteer reserve medals were able to put the appropriate letters after their names?
[Geoff Hoon: I will certainly look at that practical suggestion, but I will refer later to questions of recruitment and retention. I will set out some of the efforts that the Ministry of Defence is making to ensure that we have the right numbers of people coming in and remaining in the armed forces for as long as we need them.]