Harriett Baldwin pays tribute to the work of the scientists at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and asks if increased visibility of our armed forces has helped increase recruitment.
May I ask the Minister to pay particular tribute to the science and to the scientists working at the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, and to the important role they are playing? As we see this increased visibility domestically from our armed forces, is it helping with the important task of recruitment into our armed forces?
There speaks a distinguished former Defence Minister; it is a pleasure to see my hon. Friend in her place. I am glad that she has mentioned DSTL. On a whole series of tasks, from helping the Welsh ambulance service through to planning for a range of options that have come through to the military—including how we roll out modelling for a whole range of projects during the course of this pandemic—DSTL has done a first-class job. I am therefore delighted that she has mentioned it in the Chamber. On recruitment, what she expects has come to pass. We have seen a 13% increase in applications to join the armed forces in the year to July 2020, and retention has increased. That reflects the pride that people have in our armed forces. They see members of the armed forces doing such a valuable task around our country day in, day out, and they are responding in kind.