§ 15. Mr. Ashley
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made by his Department to prevent bullying in the services; and how much money has been spent in dealing with this matter since June 1988.
§ Mr. Archie Hamilton
The services take a serious view of bullying and it has been made very clear that bullying and ill-treatment will not be tolerated. A range of measures to combat bullying has been introduced, including the banning of initiation ceremonies and, specifically in the Army, the implementation of a training package on personnel management.
Information on expenditure is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
§ Mr. Ashley
Is the Minister aware that I welcome both advances which have been made, but it will be obvious to him from my correspondence with the Department that some bullying still goes on. The only way to deal with that is by the appointment of a military ombudsman, who can deal with the problems objectively and is seen to do so. Please may we have an ombudsman?
§ Mr. Hamilton
The right hon. Gentleman suggests that the existing disciplinary systems within the services are inadequate. I do not believe that to be so. They are objective and deal with such cases fairly. I do not think that anything would be gained by having an ombudsman to handle those problems.