Select Committee on Defence First Report


    (a)  We believe that, with the obvious sensitivity surrounding the review of the TA, and the political interest which it had generated, the MoD should have handled the consultation process on the restructuring of the TA more carefully. The Ministry of Defence has fallen below the high standards it set itself during the SDR in its conduct of this exercise. We recommend that the forthcoming review of the Territorial and Auxiliary Volunteer Reserve Associations should be used as an opportunity to demonstrate that the MoD is genuinely seeking opinions on its proposals (paragraph 5).

    (b)  We recommend that the MoD monitors closely the impact of the proposed new structure on training, and if it becomes apparent that the proposed structure is failing to deliver effectively, undertakes to increase the establishment of individual units to such a level that can (paragraph 12).

    (c)  We consider it likely that a smaller but better-trained TA will require a higher proportion of Permanent Staff Instructors than it has had in the past. We will hold the Minister to his assurance that the position will be regularly reviewed and that should it become clear that training is falling below levels necessary for the effectiveness of the TA to be maintained, it will be increased (paragraph 13).

    (d)  We welcome the MoD's partial response to this Committee's recommendation on the need for an increased NBC capability and its modest recognition of the potential role for the TA in civil defence against asymmetric threats to the homeland (paragraph 15).

    (e)  Whilst we welcome such training for Sponsored Reserves, we remain concerned that Sponsored Reservists could not, in extremis, be expected to serve as infantrymen. We look to the MoD to ensure that the military training given to Sponsored Reserves is appropriate and relevant to the task; in particular with regard to their proximity to the front line (paragraph 22).

    (f)    The National Employers Liaison Committee are in a position to provide valuable assistance to the MoD in the establishment of this new form of Reservist and we will expect to see evidence of thorough consultation between the two organisations during the establishment of the Sponsored Reserves (paragraph 24).

    (g)  We welcome, in principle, the decision to expand the medical services which are a vital part of the support service to the Army, but we are concerned that the MoD may be overambitious in seeking to recruit 2,000 extra volunteer personnel in these areas (paragraph 28).

    (h)  The success of the recruitment of medical reservists is reliant upon the MoD and the Department of Health formulating coherent recruiting policies and promoting the benefits of volunteer service. It is essential to greatly improve the level of liaison between the MoD and the Department of Health on the recruitment of volunteer medical reservists, in particular at Ministerial level. We will monitor closely the recruited strength of the medical services to see if the MoD are successful in their objectives (paragraph 30).

    (i)    We expect the MoD to be responsive to TAVRA advice on the disposal of TA centres, and where that advice is found to be valid for it to be acted upon by the MoD, even if this involves reconsidering individual sites earmarked for sale. We also recommend some openness about this process of consultation—we expect the Minister to be able to defend choices made on 'political' rather than commercial grounds (paragraph 34).

    (j)    We recommend that control of the £12 million allocated to the Cadets should be given to the TAVRAs, and that they should be free to invest any savings accrued from this programme in upgrading and refurbishing existing accommodation for the Cadets (paragraph 36).

    (k)  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 (paragraph 41).

    (l)    Budgetary independence is a cornerstone of the TAVRAs' independence and should not be diminished. (Paragraph 43).

    (m)  We recommend that the budgeting system for the TAVRAs allows them to retain for their own use at least 50% of any efficiency savings made on their annual budget and 100% of accruals from other income generating activities (paragraph 45).

    (n)  We recommend that the MoD implement our proposed system of reporting on the effects of the restructuring process from March/April 1999 (paragraph 48).

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Prepared 11 February 1999