Select Committee on Defence First Report

The Structure of the TAVRAS

39. At present there are 14 TAVRAs covering the United Kingdom. As part of the MoD's proposals it is considering reducing this number to twelve. The MoD argue that as the number of Reserves that the TAVRAs administer has been reduced so a proportionate reduction in the number of TAVRAs is a logical consequence.[128] However, our witnesses from the TAVRAs dispute this logic. They argue that although the establishment of the TA is being reduced they still have a substantial commitment to the Cadets of all three services, as well as the other volunteer reserve forces. Colonel Putnam explained—

Although the TA may have been cut by 34 per cent the TAVRAs' responsibility has not been cut by 34 per cent because in most cases more than 50 per cent is geared to the Cadets and certainly more than 50 per cent of our overall staff are concerned with managing the cadet forces and not the Territorial Army.[129]

40. The TAVRAs in principle do not see a reduction in the number of Associations as an insuperable problem.[130] They argued that their concerns were based not on the number of Associations, but on their geographical boundaries.[131] In particular, they were worried that the TAVRAs' boundaries may be redrawn to fit those of the Regular Army's Regional Commands.[132] This, they argue would result in some of the Associations being too large to be effectively administered. One example given was that under such an arrangement TAVRA representatives would have to administer an Association that would stretch from Berwick-upon-Tweed down to the Wash.[133]

41. Colonel Taylor also pointed out that aligning the boundaries of the Regional Land Command and the TAVRAs would leave the TAVRA structure dependent upon the regional structure of the regular Army—

The danger of aligning 12 TAVRAs with the 12 existing brigades is what happens next time there is a brigade boundary change, have the TAVRAs got to change? If you accept that argument now then they probably will have to.[134]

While there may be apparent administrative benefits to Land Command in matching the boundaries of the TAVRAs to its own regional commands, we also fear that the MoD would like the boundaries to be co-terminous so that the Chain of Command could administer each Association more closely, paving the way to closer control of each Association's funds. The Minister was well aware of this argument, but did not believe it stood up.[135] Even so, co-terminous boundaries could "blur" the distinction between the two organisations which would be to the detriment of all concerned. Our suspicions were strengthened by the MoD's written evidence which stated—

For the future, although we assess that a degree of separateness is justified (and will be maintained) between funding for the TA that is delegated to the TAVRAs and such funding delegated to the chain of command, the present system does make it hard to make judgements on relative priorities between, for example, TA works costs and TA training costs which are met through these different channels. Without removing the advantages that derive from the TAVRA system, the new arrangements we are discussing are designed to go some way to overcoming these disadvantages by bringing the TAVRAs and chain of command closer together.[136]

As we said in our Report on the Strategic Defence Review, the TAVRAs provide a strong independent voice to champion the cause of all the Reserve force elements. The seductive logic of administrative convenience which may be driving their reorganisation should not be the determining factor in making decisions.[137] Furthermore, it should be not be forgotten that the TAVRAs also provide administrative support to the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Auxiliary Air Force. In reforming the TAVRAs, the MoD must not lose sight of the fact that the Associations are independent volunteer Associations and as such must be given the opportunity to organise their own affairs by their own lights to deliver what the Chain of Command asks from them. Imposing co-terminous boundaries with the Regional Command on the Associations will, we believe, serve to undermine the independence of the TAVRAs and make them less efficient. We can see no benefits to the TAVRAs in such a proposal.

128   Q 217 Back

129   Q 75 Back

130   Q 74 Back

131   QQ 71-77 Back

132   QQ 72-75 Back

133   Q 72 Back

134   Q 75 Back

135   Q 208 Back

136  Ev p 36 Back

137  Eighth Report, Session 1997-98, The Strategic Defence Review, HC 138-I, para 428 Back

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Prepared 11 February 1999