§ 6. Mr. Brazier
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the establishment of regional branches of the National Employers Liaison Committee; and what roles he perceives these as playing in the enhancement of the reserve forces.
§ The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Archie Hamilton)
Contact at local level between employers and the reserve forces is via the 14 regional, territorial, auxiliary and volunteer reserve associations, each of which has its own committee to deal with employer support.
Those regional and local contacts provide valuable opportunities for employers to learn more about the reserve forces by attending briefings and by visiting reserve forces training and for their executives to take part in special weekend exercises known as executive stretch.
§ Mr. Brazier
Will my right hon. Friend join me in congratulating the NELC on the remarkable job that it has done, on a relatively small budget, in attracting employers' support for the reserve forces? Does he agree that there is considerable scope for the NELC to keep alive the interest of the business community in defence issues in these difficult and dangerous times?
§ Mr. Hamilton
I acknowledge my hon. Friend's comments. We value our links with the NELC highly, and it is currently involved in discussions on the mix of the regular-reserve forces. I certainly support that, and agree that, as we may become more dependent on reserves, links with the NELC are very valuable indeed.