Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Army Recruitment.

175.

asked the Minister for Defence why young married men are prohibited from entering the Army in view of the present difficulties in recruitment; and if he has any plans to enable such men to be recruited.

Defence Force Regulations permit of the enlistment in the Permanent Defence Force of married men who had previous full-time service in the Force and who comply with certain conditions as to age, health and general suitability. Married men who did not have previous service may, subject to similar conditions, enlist in the Naval Service.

Otherwise it has been the settled policy for many years past not to permit the enlistment of married men.

176.

asked the Minister for Defence if, in order to encourage recruitment to the Army, he will grant a rent allowance to NCOs and men.

The rates of pay of soldiers of the Permanent Defence Force are regarded as reasonably attractive and the question of introducing a rent allowance is not one which could be favourably considered.

Surely the Minister must be aware that the local authority rents charged to some members of the Defence Forces are extremely high? I know one case of an Army private who owes £275 and who is faced with eviction because he cannot find Army quarters at a reasonable rent—he cannot find any quarters at a reasonable rent. He has incurred this debt and surely the Minister should consider some form of co-operation with the Department of Local Government whereby accommodation will be made available to members of the Defence Forces at the same rate as that at which married quarters would be available, if they were available.

Is it not a fact that other members of the community have to endure the same hardship?

They are paid more than the Army.

There is an element for accommodation in the pay.

177.

asked the Minister for Defence if, in order to encourage recruitment to the Army, he will take steps to provide suitable accommodation for NCOs and men.

Some of the accommodation may not be all we would wish it to be, but I do not accept the implication in the Deputy's question that the accommodation in general is unsuitable. In fact there is some excellent accommodation.

While most of our barracks are old, the standards of accommodation in many of them have been greatly improved in recent years and it is my intention to continue the policy of improvement to the fullest extent practicable within the limits of the resources made available for the purpose.

Is the Minister aware that he previously stated that six new houses had been built for the Defence Forces in the past three years? How can he reconcile his answer with that statement?

Accommodation within military married quarters is being improved year by year and it is my intention to step up the attention being given to this matter.

178.

asked the Minister for Defence if he proposes to introduce compulsory military service.

The answer is "No".