Examination of Witnesses (Questions 40
THURSDAY 18 JANUARY 2001
40. And there is no reason why it has to wait
for five years apart from the fact your deadline is five years?
(Mr Miller) Exactly.
41. So what in fact are the stumbling blocks
to it being done before that? Are they resources or other priorities?
If it is going to improve the effectiveness in one sense or other
of the military, why is it not a priority to try and get this
Tri-Service Act before the five year deadline?
(Mr Miller) To some extent, resources are a limiting
factor and, of course, not just resources in the crude sense but
you will need people with appropriate experience and background
and they are not always in good supply.
42. Not available or not in existence?
(Mr Miller) They are usually occupied in other areas.
Largely the sort of people we want for this, beyond the legal
experts, are people who have gained their experience through their
work in the Services and, almost by definition, they will be exercising
their skills in the Services and we would be taking them away.
So there is a balance to be struck there. As I say, I would not
pretend we could not add to the resources to bring in the Bill
faster if there was a real need to do so, but the problems we
have at the moment with the separate Acts are not problems we
cannot find ways to work round, but it would undoubtedly facilitate
things if we could have a Tri-Service Act. That suggests to us
that trying to produce something in the timescale, the sort of
regular five yearly timescale, is the sensible way of tackling
43. Presumably that was brought about by the
Consolidated Bill ten years ago and five years ago?
(Mr Miller) That was why the targets for consolidation
were set ten years and five years ago.
44. So we have not got necessarily much expectation
of this coming round in five years' time?
(Mr Miller) I can only say that all my planning is
based on delivering a Tri-Service draft Bill in time for the next
45. Presumably if you had been here five years
ago answering the same questions on consolidation, you would have
come up with the same answer?
(Mr Miller) You are asking me to speculate on what
my predecessors would have said, but there is no doubt the Department
was seriously trying to tackle consolidation in that timescale.
46. I think you have all gathered already that
the Committee's clear objective is to ensure within the next five
years a Tri-Service Bill is produced. Can we move on to Clause
2 and can I ask for an introduction to this please?
(Mr Miller) Yes, Clause 2, Madam Chairman. As the
Committee will understand, while the main function of the Bill
is in effect to renew the Armed Services legislation, we have
always taken the opportunity to introduce new items and make changes,
and really Clause 2 and beyond is where we start on this process.
Clause 2 is particularly concerned with the powers of entry, search
and seizure, which may be exercised in the course of investigations
into offences under the Service Discipline Acts. We believe that
the powers currently exercised by commanding officers are not
as clear as they should be and indeed they are not necessarily
wide enough to provide all the tools which are needed for the
prevention and investigation of offences by people subject to
Service law. This clause therefore introduces a power which allows
Service police to stop and search certain people or vehicles.
The intention is that Service police may stop persons whom they
reasonably suspect to be subject to the Service Discipline Acts
and any vehicle that they are driving, or, alternatively, they
may stop any Service vehicle regardless of who is driving it.
The latter provision is really there because the increased employment
of contractors means it is not unusual for Service vehicles to
be driven by civilians who are not subject to these Service Discipline
Acts. Probably the main point in this is that the clause is based
on civilian legislation in section 1 of the Police and Criminal
Evidence Act of 1984, in other words we are following what is
happening in the civilian world. The aim is fundamentally to put
powers on a sound and clear basis, aligned as far as possible
with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
47. Are List X companies included in military
security arrangements? Under this particular clause will there
be any change in the arrangements for the right of Ministry of
Defence police, for example, to challenge or indeed search their
(Mr Miller) The staff of List X companies are not
in those circumstances subject to the Service Discipline Act.
This clause would not affect the current position in that respect
because the circumstances you are describing there, where they
are driving their own or the company's vehicle, would not be covered
by this clause.
48. How about contract security firms at some
Ministry of Defence premises? Are they covered by the Service
(Mr Miller) No.
49. I am very anxious that the provisions of
this Bill should ensure there are adequate numbers of policemen
and women available, from whatever branch of the Services. It
is not fair to ask this now but could you let the Committee have
tables showing the current strength and the future strength, if
possible, of the Ministry of Defence police, the Military Provost
Guard Service, the MoD Guard Service, the Royal Military Police,
the Royal Navy Regulating Branch, the Royal Marines Police and
the RAF Police, so we know what numbers we are talking about and
we get this clear? It may already be published, and that is no
problem, but could you also explain for my benefit, because I
just have not got a clue about this, what are the 146 or so Provost
Officers of the RAF?
(Mr Miller) To answer the first part of the question,
I can certainly produce for the Committee a table of numbers.
I have some of those figures with me but not all of them, so it
would be more convenient to produce a table.
I think the obvious person to answer the other question is Air
(Air Commodore Charles) A Provost Officer
is effectively an RAF policeman, he is a commissioned officer.
The reason for the title is that he exercises his authority under
the Provost Marshal of the Royal Air Force. So the 170 you mention
are RAF policemen commissioned.
50. Given the wide range and variety of different
Service police, has any consideration been given to consolidating
that Service, or is it still a matter of keeping the status
(Mr Miller) There is no current consideration being
given to the amalgamation of the Service police forces, no. The
individual Service's discipline is very much one of those matters
which is the responsibility of the individual Service and the
separation of the three Services, armed forces, reflects that.
51. But it sounds as though it would be something
which would be considered during the drafting of the Tri-Service
Bill over the next five years?
(Mr Miller) It is possible it might come up but I
suspect the driving factors are likely to be the acceptability
of this to, for want of a better term, the clientele, the average
sailor, soldier and airman. There is strong identification with
the Service in all three Services, obviously it is one of the
things encouraged for operational reasons, and that does tend
to have the effect of making it much more acceptable if you are
arrested by a policeman from your own Service rather than somebody
52. You said that this clause would not affect
contractors working on military bases. Why is that?
(Mr Miller) Because they are not subject to the Service
Discipline Acts. The Service Discipline Acts as currently defined
apply to servicemen anywhere and to civilians, that is civilians
employed by the Ministry of Defence, generally speaking abroad,
but contractors only in very limited circumstances abroad. From
memory, although I would need to check, I think the contractors
employed in Kosovo are subject to the Act but those in the UK
53. Can you explain why that is? What is the
rationale behind that?
(Mr Miller) Because the feeling is that when the contractors
are operating within the jurisdiction of UK civilian law, that
is the appropriate body of law with which to deal with them. The
general feeling in the Department is that we should not seek to
apply the somewhat more onerous requirements of the Service Discipline
Act to civilians unless it was absolutely essential. The civil
law should suffice.
54. Presumably those contractors and other people
are aware of the fact they are not covered by the Service Discipline
(Mr Miller) I would imagine they are, yes. There is
no reason to think they would think otherwise.
55. Is there any interest in establishing where,
when and in what circumstances they might become subject to them?
(Mr Miller) That is clearly defined. To start with,
when a civilian employed by the Ministry of Defence is posted
abroad this is one of the things he is told. It is the responsibility
of the contractor to tell his own staff they are but they would
be expected to do that.
56. If I can give the example of a contractor
coming onor even for that matter delivering vehicles and
coming onto RAF Uxbridge, which is enclosed, if for some
reason there was a suspicion something on board had been stolen
from the camp, presumably the RAF Police would have to phone up
the civil police, the Met, and say, "When this man comes
off the camp, you had better pull him over", or would they
have the jurisdiction to hold him up before he leaves the base?
What would be the situation there?
(Mr Miller) In those circumstances I would expect
the commanding officer on the base to call the civil police, and
the civil police would have the necessary authority.
57. The civil police can come on to the base
but could the RAF Police hold that vehicle there in the meantime?
They might do it, they might find a way, but have they got the
(Air Commodore Charles) No. In the example you give,
Mr Randall, the Ministry of Defence Police are at Uxbridge so
it would be a matter for them. But Ministry of Defence Police
are not at every RAF establishment and I would not expect the
RAF Police to stop a civilian contractor's vehicle in those circumstances.
It would be reported as soon as possible to the local constabulary
and it would be a matter for the civilian police.
58. And the constabulary can come on to the
(Air Commodore Charles) Indeed, yes.
(Mr Miller) I wonder if I might just correct something
I said earlier? I said the contractors in Kosovo were subject
to the Service Discipline Acts, in fact I am mistaken, they are
not. That is a particular situation in Kosovo.
59. Can I ask whether you believe this lack
of ability to deal with civilians in the way you have described
restricts your ability to secure a base? It would appear to me
a vehicle which is going on and off a military base which cannot
be stopped and searched, compromises the security.
(Mr Miller) There are powers to search vehicles on
entrycontractors' vehicles or otherwise which come from
a different sourcewhich will usually be exercised by the
MoD Guard Force or the MoD Constabulary where they are present.
How do we deal with the situation of any emergency which requires
(Air Commodore Charles) It would be a search with
the consent of the individual. If they did not consent, they would
not be allowed access.
2 See Appendix 6. Back