Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 1540 - 1550)



  1540.  How does this insurance cover differ from what is available to their regular counterparts?
  (Brigadier Smales)  Without going into the details of the terms of insurance, we must bear in mind the regular counterpart is permanently in the Army, and this takes account of that because it will apply both on and off duty, in or out of the TA. I do not think I can go further than that.

  1541.  Do you want to say anything about any other regular benefits afforded to reservists on full-time attachment?
  (Brigadier Smales)  I might try and answer specific questions but otherwise I will have to give you a written answer.

  1542.  Can I ask one last detailed question and perhaps you could let us have a written reply on it? In the spring of 1991, while we were in the war in the Gulf, as a result of an Adjournment Debate in which the present Minister of State for Armed Forces and I participated, the Government agreed to change the abatement rules for Territorials who were injured on duty. I introduced the case because I had a soldier who had just been injured on duty and was, as a result, off for a number of months. They were drawing TA pay and hitherto any contributions made by the employer were deducted pound for pound from the TA's pay, so in other words the employer had to either take the whole burden or no burden at all, which is clearly nonsense. A change came through, and the change is still there on the books, which said that from now on that would not apply, you could keep the money from the employer as long as he was not a public sector employer. The question I would like to put to you, and you may like to wait until it comes to you on the record, public service employers are exempted from this on the basis that the Civil Service and the local government service have generous arrangements for people on reserve service anyway. What about the new categories of public service employers? Supposing somebody working for an agency, for example, is working for the TA and has this sort of accident, what would happen to them? Could I ask for a written answer on that?
  (Brigadier Smales)  That takes my middle stump clean out of the ground!
  Mr McWilliam:  The answer is in the legislation, Julian. They are on the same conditions as civil servants[3].
  Mr Brazier:  Are they? Could you look, nevertheless, and drop me a note, Brigadier? Thank you.
  Mr McWilliam:  I led on that Bill!


  1543.  Whenever we talk about reservists, anybody coming in, sitting in, might imagine we only have a Territorial Army possibly as a result of the grotesque diminution of the size of the other forces. I see we have down regulations for the Royal Naval Reserve. It is hardly, I understand, earth-shattering but in deference to what is left of the Royal Naval Reserve, would one of the witnesses care to tell us what is involved in that change?
  (Brigadier Holmes)  I think, Chairman, that is aimed clearly at my middle stump so perhaps I could endeavour a forward defensive on that! The Royal Navy has amended a document called BR 60, which is essentially its equivalent of TA regulations, in other words regulations which govern their reserves. It has done this because the Royal Naval Reserve has a number of lists and members of the Royal Naval Reserve serve on one of these lists, and what the Royal Naval Reserve has actually done is removed Lists 7 and 8. This had the effect, in essence, of meaning that members of University Royal Naval Units, URNUs, ceased effectively to be members of the Royal Naval Reserve. The Royal Navy did this because it took the view that since members of URNUs had no mobilisation liability, they were not technically speaking reservists. This in a sense is right. In fact the Secretary of State has the power, to remove the Call out liability from Reservists. So what this is actually doing is restoring List 7, so that members of University Royal Naval Units will actually be part of the Royal Naval Reserve but will not have a mobilisation requirement. In case you are concerned about List 8, that would refer to officers of the Sea Cadet Corps who are in fact not members of the Armed Forces of the Crown technically speaking but are, if you like, honorary Royal Naval Reserve officers. So it is a slightly technical point.

  1544.  The last question, unless my colleagues have anything further, we spoke about Bosnia at some length and marginally about Iraq and its environs. Would that be more directed to sailors being called up as opposed to soldiers or airmen? Why did you refer to Iraq? What reservists have been called up for that general region so far?
  (Brigadier Holmes)  If I can cast my mind back into the recent past, we have, as I recall, an officer of the Territorial Army who has been called up because he is an interpreter. That is the sort of skill which we would probably be using at this stage of the proceedings—reservists who are interpreters, with a good knowledge of Arabic, serving in that region. That is why it says "the region of Iraq".

  1545.  There is nothing else?
  (Brigadier Holmes)  Not to the best of my knowledge. (After a pause)  I can now be slightly more detailed.

  1546.  I know the experience. I gave evidence to a Committee yesterday and I was constantly being passed notes by the clerk. I did not read one of them, I might tell you!
  (Brigadier Holmes)  I am grateful for the sleight of hand on the part of the person behind me! Small numbers, mainly specialists, serving Operation Warden, which is deterrent forces covering Northern Iraq; Operation Jural, which is the no-fly zone over Southern Iraq; and occasionally Operation Rockingham, which is UNSCOM inspections in Iraq itself. So it is mainly specialists and the chap who caught my eye is an officer on UNSCOM inspections in Iraq.

  1547.  I understand there may be a Royal Marine Reserve, can you recall anyone in Safe Haven perhaps?
  (Brigadier Holmes)  This is a point I would wish to emphasise, we use very successfully approximately 100 Royal Marine Reservists who volunteered and were mobilised at short notice in Northern Iraq, which worked extraordinarily well, testifying to the ability of the Royal Marine Reserves to support the regular corps very quickly and very effectively.

  1548.  Could you send us a document on that because that might be quite helpful to those of us interested?
  (Brigadier Holmes)  Of course, we will do that.

Mr Brazier

  1549.  A quick supplementary to that. One of the organisations we have not asked about is the Role Auxiliary Air Force. As I understand it, the first Role Support Squadron has now been in being for some time and a number of others are forming. This is a long way from call-up arrangements but when we originally asked whether there was any prospect of reservist COs for the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and Royal Support Squadrons, we were told yes in principle but obviously they have to be started by a regular. Is there any news on that?
  (Brigadier Holmes)  I have certainly not seen any reservist COs. I have to say that I am mightily impressed by the Role Support Squadrons which do a lot of things extraordinarily well. I am very impressed by their ability to attract people with the skills that the Royal Auxiliary Air Force wants. I visited a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron at Benson and found in its transport section there were a surprisingly large number of garage proprietors, for example——


  1550.  Looking for business, I suspect!
  (Brigadier Holmes)  I can well imagine! As far as having reservist COs is concerned, I have seen none.
  Chairman:  Thank you very much for coming. For those of you who have ever had to sit in on a Statutory Instruments Committee, you will realise how totally superfluous that activity is because it does not give anyone the opportunity for questioning a minister, and I think we are very privileged to have had the opportunity of having information on the ideas behind the documentation, and we shall send a transcript of our proceedings to our colleagues who are press-ganged into serving on that appropriate Committee when the time comes. Thank you for coming along and perhaps you could be on standby sometime between 15, 16, 20 July, maybe even the August recess, Brigadier, because we have threatened, and it is no simple threat, that we will be looking very, very closely and in great detail at whatever the SDR has in store for our wonderful reservists whose interests we have uppermost in our minds in the weeks ahead. Thank you very much for coming.

3   Note by witness: The MoD confirm that Mr McWilliam is correct. Back

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