On the 7th November 2016, Earl Howe repeated a statement on the Government’s strategy for the future of the Defence Estate. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a follow-up question.
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I follow the point made by the previous noble Lord by asking about recruitment. I notice that Dale Barracks in Chester are on the hit list. That has been a centre of recruitment for the Cheshire regiment over the years. It is hardly a small and remote site, as referred to in the report. Now the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment is pretty much based there. How is recruitment to the Armed Forces likely to be affected by this withdrawal from a large number of sites, where the association with the Army—or the Navy or Air Force, for that matter—goes back a very long way?
Earl Howe: The concentration of sites that I have been talking about plays into recruitment in the round because the more stable and confident armed services personnel and their families feel about their roots and where they are, the more we are likely to see a better performance in recruitment and retention. The problem with some of these sites—I do not necessarily include the one referred to by the right reverend Prelate—is that they are remote, do not play into the recruitment agenda very easily, and certainly not the retention agenda, and they are not conducive to spousal employment either. We want a better deal for families in the round, and I hope that over the next few years, as this programme rolls out, the personnel of our Armed Forces will see it in the same way.