Examination of witnesses
(Questions 1540 - 1550)
WEDNESDAY 24 JUNE 1998
and MR JOHN
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
(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.
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
(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 proceedingsreservists 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
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.
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