Select Committee on Defence First Report

Sponsored Reserves

18. In the Strategic Defence Review the MoD expressed an intention to develop the use of Sponsored Reserves—individuals who will serve, as members of the workforce of a company contracted to the MoD, in a military capacity and have agreed to accept a reserve liability to be called up for active service in a crisis.[66] These Sponsored Reserves will serve with the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. On 22 December 1998 the MoD laid before Parliament the Territorial Army Regulations - Amendment 20, which provides for the terms and conditions of service for the Sponsored Reserves. As part of our undertaking to monitor the legislative acts of the MoD[67] we requested a memorandum on the amendment from the MoD.[68] In addition to this memorandum, the MoD supplied us with a copy of a guide to terms and conditions of service that apply to the Sponsored Reserve.[69] Together these documents give a full explanation of the new procedures.

19. During our inquiry into the SDR, the Minister for Defence Procurement told us that in considering the scope for use of public-private partnerships in the provision of military equipment the boundary would always be drawn behind the front line, but that those boundaries were not always clear.[70] In some cases, he said, it was conceivable that equipment provided by the private sector could be operated by sponsored reserves rather than the MoD's own personnel.[71] We warned however that we must not be left in a position where military operations are hindered or jeopardised.[72] The MoD are now inviting bids to provide a Heavy Equipment Transporter service and are suggesting to bidders that use of sponsored reserves as drivers and operators could be built into their proposals.[73] We note too that as part of its public-private partnership programme the MoD is examining further schemes to provide armoured Command and Liaison Vehicles, and Wheeled (battlefield equipment) Recovery Vehicles. The need for vigilance against the risks to military operations, highlighted in our SDR report, is now particularly pressing, and we trust that the MoD are alive to the pitfalls.

20. In our report on the Strategic Defence Review,[74] we acknowledged the potential of the use of this form of reservist, but were unconvinced that the MoD had fully considered the administrative and training arrangements for such reservists. Amendment 20 seeks to update the Territorial Army Regulations 1978 to take account of the special circumstances of the employment of Sponsored Reserves. Its main provisions are as follows.

66   Eighth Report, Session 1997-98, The Strategic Defence Review, HC138-I, para 107 Back

67   Second Report, Session 1997-98, The Draft Visiting Forces and International Headquarters (Application of Law) (Amendment) Order 1998, HC521, paragraph 12 Back

68   Ev pp 42-46 Back

69   Sponsored Reserve Regulations (Land/G3 res 560/3/1 (G1 TA)), not printed Back

70   Eighth Report, Session 1997-98, The Strategic Defence Review, HC 138-I, para 301 Back

71   ibid, para 300 Back

72   ibid 301 Back

73   Preview, January 1999, p14 Back

74   Eighth Report, Session 1997-98, The Strategic Defence Review, HC138, para 273 Back

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Prepared 11 February 1999