DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – TERRITORIAL ARMY – 15 October 2009

Dr Julian Lewis: The information that I have, which I believe to be accurate, is that the reason for the cut in funding for the Territorial Army is that Regular Army recruitment has exceeded expectation and that funds have to be found somewhere in the land budget to pay for the training of that extra recruitment. Is that true? If it is not, why is the decision on the cut in TA funding being taken so late in the year?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Bob Ainsworth): No one – neither my predecessor nor I – has tried, in the circumstances that we have faced, to discourage the recruitment opportunity that the Army has had. Yes, of course there are financial circumstances. Recruitment to the Regular Army has been so successful over a period of time. I do not think that Conservative Front Benchers would, on reflection, have taken another decision; if they had been in the position of my predecessor or me at various points of this year, I do not think that they would have said no. When the opportunity and need were there, recruitment was allowed to progress. That is the priority, and it is also the Chief of the General Staff's priority.]