Members present:
              Rachel Squire, in the Chair
              Mr David Clelland
              Mr David Crausby
              Mr Quentin Davies
              Mr Paul Keetch
              Mr Robert Key
              Mr John Randall
              Mr John Spellar
              Mr Dave Watts
                 RT HON GEOFFREY HOON, a Member of the House, Secretary of State for
           Defence, MR MICHAEL LEGGE, Deputy Under-Secretary of State (Civilian
           Management) and MR TONY COMBEN, Deputy Chief Constable, Ministry of
           Defence Police, Ministry of Defence, examined.
        1095.    Good afternoon to everyone and I particularly give a very
  warm welcome to the Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Hoon, and also to
  welcome Mr Comben, who has certainly come and given very helpful evidence to
  us before, and Mr Legge.  Thank you very much indeed for coming before the
  Committee this afternoon.  My intention is to try and ensure that every member
  of the Committee who has a question to ask is given the opportunity to do so
  and, depending on whether there is any time then available, we may be able to
  open it up for further questions.  Can I begin ---
        (Mr Hoon)   Before you do, could I thank the Committee for its
  willingness to meet on this occasion at this time, having regard to very
  difficult commitments that I had on Monday and Tuesday.  I do very much
  appreciate that.
        1096.    Thank you very much, Secretary of State.  Can I begin by
  saying that the members of the Committee may come in with a range of questions
  but in the evidence we have heard over the last few weeks there is one
  particular area which has come to somewhat dominate our thinking, and that is
  clauses 31 and 32 of the Bill, dealing with an extension of jurisdiction of
  the Ministry of Defence Police.  I would say that my perception has certainly
  been reformed over the last few weeks because prior to this Committee my
  contact with my local Ministry of Defence Police had been a very positive one,
  I had certainly never heard any concerns raised about their operation either
  by the community or by the local police service, and indeed my main contact
  with the MDP and their Federation was some years ago under the previous
  Government when they were concerned about their changing role, the reduction
  in their numbers and how this could lead to them operating increasingly in
  mixed civilian and defence environments and what this might lead to.  I would
  really like to open up with the first question, Mr Hoon, which is, what is the
  motivation of yourself and your Department behind extending the jurisdiction
  of the Ministry of Defence Police as outlined in the clauses of this Bill?
        (Mr Hoon)   I think it is fair to say clauses 31 and 32 are very modest
  changes in the powers of the Ministry of Defence Police, and the need for
  those very modest changes arises for three reasons.  Firstly, we now have some
  considerable experience, 13 years I think, of the operation of the 1987 Act
  which consolidated the powers in relation to the Ministry of Defence Police,
  which has demonstrated certain weaknesses, not significant weaknesses but
  areas where we judge it appropriate to bring the law up to date to reflect the
  current reality, and therefore these modest changes are designed to achieve
  that in the first place.  Secondly, there have been some changes in the way
  in which the Ministry of Defence Police have operated since 1987, and in
  particular they have become more mobile, they have a jurisdiction in defence
  establishments but when they are organised to travel between defence
  establishments it seems to make sense, to me at any rate, that they should
  have certain rights between defence establishments.  Thirdly, and perhaps most
  importantly as far as the number of changes are concerned, to facilitate co-
  operation between the Ministry of Defence Police and other police forces, to
  ensure that there is mutual support between people wearing police uniforms,
  and really the existing arrangements do not allow that to happen to the extent
  we believe should be appropriate.
        Chairman:   Thank you.
                              Mr Crausby
        1097.    How would you argue against the statement that this is a non-
  accountable national police force, or at least steps towards it?  I accept
  these changes are modest in the beginning but who initiated these changes? 
  Are these changes a request from the MOD Police or do they come from the MOD
        (Mr Hoon)   We have had 13 years' operation, or thereabouts, of the 1987
  Act.  I am not quite sure how many changes there have been to policing
  legislation in the comparable period but quite a considerable number.  In the
  course of those 13 years we have found difficulties that arise, practical
  circumstances occur and, frankly, there is a process of learning.  That is
  true of all legislation.  It is that process which has led to the conclusions
  which are in clauses 31 and 32.  As I say, they are extremely modest and they
  are reflecting the fact, broadly speaking, the 1987 Act at the time was
  sufficient but now, particularly given the kind of practical changes we have
  seen, we believe it is time to bring it up to date.  These are not dramatic
  changes, they are incremental changes.  As far as accountability is concerned,
  when you describe it as a national police force, it is a national police force
  in the sense the defence estate for which the Ministry of Defence Police is
  responsible is organised nationally but it could equally well be the case that
  if we were considering the British Transport Police that they are a national
  police force.  The accountability for both of those organisations is very
  similar and since this is a matter for the defence estate and it is subject
  clearly to the Ministry of Defence, it is right that the accountability is
  through me as Secretary of State for Defence.
                               Mr Watts
        1098.    The role of the MOD Police has developed, as you said, over
  the last few years.  When making these changes, how permanent do you think
  those changes will be?  Or do you think we will be here in five or six years
  developing different roles for the MOD and, if so, what do you think those
  roles would be?
        (Mr Hoon)   I think the biggest single change we are having to deal with
  since 1987 - and I suspect it was probably a change which was already underway
  then - is that historically and traditionally Ministry of Defence Police were
  allocated to particular bases and particular parts of the defence estate and
  their jurisdiction therefore was confined to that estate or the vicinity
  thereof.  What we have now is a situation where clearly some defence estate
  actually has a relatively small number of people on it and we cannot
  necessarily justify allocating particular police officers to those quite small
  bases, and in those circumstances what has happened since 1987 is that a
  number - I think it is 16 - mobile policing units have been established and
  they will travel and have responsibility for a number of different defence
  estates.  In those circumstances they will travel from one to the other.  The
  issue is whether in the course of their travel, the police officers wearing
  uniform should not be allowed, if they perceive an offence occurring,
  particularly a crime of violence, to use the authority that should flow from
  their position as police officers to deal with that problem.  I know the
  Committee has been concerned about that.  Nearly all the members of this
  Committee are fairly regular visitors to the Ministry of Defence estate and
  I would invite each of you to consider what would your view be if, having
  visited a Ministry of Defence base, you were travelling away from there and
  found yourself under attack, you saw a police officer in a uniform who to all
  intents and purposes looked like a police officer because he was a member of
  the Ministry of Defence Police but who stopped, looked at your predicament,
  looked at you being attacked and said, "I am terribly sorry, I do not have the
  legal powers to intervene, and if I did intervene my legal position would be
  subject to very considerable challenge", and as a result he then moves on. 
  I suspect none of you would be very happy and I anticipate receiving a letter
  in due course.  This is designed to deal with precisely that kind of
        1099.    I think the reasons behind the proposal are clear, but what
  I was trying to get from you, Secretary of State, was whether you thought the
  new arrangements would be permanent or whether they were fluid and there would
  be further changes in future years.
        (Mr Hoon)   Obviously these changes are to deal with the kind of changes
  I have set out to the Committee already.  They will bring up to date if
  Parliament approves them the legal rights and responsibilities of police
  officers in the kinds of circumstances that I have described, to reflect the
  changes and events which have occurred since 1987.  I do not anticipate
  significant further changes.  I am not ruling them out but I cannot think of
  any off-hand which would require further changes.  Were there to be further
  changes, we would be asking Parliament to consider alterations in the
  legislation appropriately, but I am not aware there are any.
                               Mr Keetch
        1100.    Secretary of State, you have made several references to the
  1987 Act and the changes which have occurred since that Act and I want to
  highlight a number which you have not mentioned.  To put those into context,
  a previous Minister of the Armed Forces, Sir Archie Hamilton, made quite clear
  to the previous Committee that he did not envisage that the MDP would be
  involved in the investigation of serious crimes such as, and I use the word,
  rape.  We now know the MDP are regularly involved in such investigations.  We
  have had since 1987 the case of Tony Geraghty, where a member of the public,
  a journalist, had his house raided by MDP officers without the knowledge of
  the local constabulary, where he was detained and questioned and no subsequent
  cases brought against him.  We spoke to an MDP officer in Kosovo who said he
  enjoyed being in circumstances where he could work with no rules and where he
  admitted for the first time he was able to work in the way he wanted to work. 
  We have heard from military policemen in Cyprus who told us they were worried
  the MDP wanted to get involved in their work, that they were scared about turf
  wars.  We have also heard from national police officers in the UK that they
  are concerned about all of this, and you have rightly said today that you want
  MDP officers to assist us if we are leaving bases.  Of course we want that but
  my question to you, Secretary of State, is, why tag these changes on to the
  end of the quinquennial Bill?  Why did you not bring before Parliament a new
  and up-dated 1987 Act where we would have had time to look at these changes
  properly, where we could put them into context with the other service police
  which exist and actually do a thorough job?  At the moment all members of this
  Committee have grave concerns about what you are suggesting - you look to your
  Minister, he may not have grave concerns ----
        (Mr Hoon)   It is not quite "all" then!  I am sure the representative of
  the Whips' Office does not have grave concerns either!
        1101.    Perhaps he does not either but a lot of us do.  I understand
  why you want these powers and I support the reasoning behind them, I support
  the role of the MDP in doing that, but I just do not know why it is coming in
  this Bill and not a separate Act.
        (Mr Hoon)   You started with what I can only describe as anecdotal
  rhetoric which might have been more appropriate for a Second Reading debate
  than a careful consideration ----
        1102.    Do you challenge any of that rhetoric?  Is any of it wrong?
        (Mr Hoon)   Yes, I do actually.
        1103.    In what way?
        (Mr Hoon)   If we go through those illustrations one by one, I will deal
  with them individually, but the purpose of this Committee, as I understand it,
  is to consider specifically the proposals.  You have asked me a direct
  question in relation to why it is the Government is bringing forward proposals
  at this stage.  It has always been the case that the quinquennial legislation
  dealing with Armed Forces' discipline has been used to deal with a wider range
  of issues.   This is nothing new.  It has always happened in this way.  There
  are limited opportunities, unfortunately, because of shortage of parliamentary
  time to deal with vitally important matters affecting the Armed Forces and in
  this case the police, and in those circumstances I can see no reason why,
  given it has happened routinely in the past, this should be an issue today.
        1104.    But why no separate Act as there was in 1987?  You have
  described yourself that society has moved on, there have been changes, surely
  we should have the opportunity to look at the MDP in total and not just simply
  in very short order.
        (Mr Hoon)   I have actually answered your question but I will answer it
  again for you.  The two clauses you are concerned about are two clauses which
  make what I have described as, and no one challenges this, modest changes in
  the operation of the Ministry of Defence Police.  The 1987 Act was a very
  significant piece of consolidating legislation which brought together a wide
  range of different powers and responsibilities and therefore clearly was
  appropriate as a stand-alone Act of Parliament.  These are modest amendments
  to those powers in the light of the experience we have had since 1987.  They
  are no more than modest amendments and therefore it does not require, every
  time Government proposes modest amendments to Parliament, we should have a
  stand-alone Act of Parliament.  The legislation we have has been used
  regularly to deal with ancillary matters and these changes are no more than
  ancillary to the powers established in 1987.  They are not significant changes
  in the powers and responsibilities of the Ministry of Defence Police.
                               Mr Davies
        1105.    Mr Hoon, are you aware that the evidence we have taken from
  the Ministry of Defence Police, from Home Office chief constables and from
  others, has revealed, firstly, considerable doubts and uncertainties about
  exactly what the demarkation of responsibility between the Ministry of Defence
  Police and the Home Office police would be in several situations including,
  for example, serious criminal investigations such as mentioned by Mr Keetch,
  and, secondly, some anxieties and concerns, particularly on the part of the
  Scottish chief constables, about the idea of the Ministry of Defence Police
  extending its jurisdiction and acting in the areas covered by Home Office
  constabulary?  Are you aware those two things have emerged from the evidence
  we have taken?
        (Mr Hoon)   I think you have somewhat overstated the position, not least
  because the arrangements as far as the interface between what I might call
  Home Office police forces and Ministry of Defence Police are subject to
  agreements, to protocols, made between the relevant forces, and therefore it
  is entirely a matter for a chief constable to agree with the Ministry of
  Defence Police the arrangements that he would expect to see as far as any
  overlap of jurisdiction is concerned.  But this is not a new problem.  This
  is not something which arises because of these proposals, this is something
  which has been part of the scenery for the Ministry of Defence Police
  certainly since 1987 and arguably before that, because part of the 1987 Act
  was designed to determine the extent of the jurisdiction, part of an issue of
  course which arises in any event in relation to Home Office police as well,
  an issue addressed as long ago as 1964.  As you will know, before 1964 a
  police constable only had legal powers as a police constable within the county
  jurisdiction in which he was sworn.  That was changed in 1964 and in many
  respects what happened in 1987 and what we are proposing now is part of the
  process of recognising that it is important to give those who are perceived
  by the community as being police officers the legal justification for acting
  as police officers.
        1106.    I think if you read, or if you get your officials to draw
  your attention to, the relevant part of the testimony we have had ---
        (Mr Hoon)   Perhaps you would like to be specific.
        1107.    --- you will see my description of the doubts and
  difficulties which have been expressed is not an exaggerated one in any way. 
  If the solution, or part of the solution, is these protocols which you have
  mentioned, would you be prepared, in order to make the matter absolutely
  clear, so that the public can see what these lines of demarkation are, to
  publish the relevant protocols?
        (Mr Hoon)   I see no difficulty about that at all.
        1108.    That is very reassuring, thank you.
        (Mr Comben) They are published at present in the sense that they are
  Home Office circulars and they are available as public information, but we can
  always look to make the general public better informed.  Because they are
  already in the public domain, that presents us with no problems at all.
                                Mr Key
        1109.    Secretary of State, I think I recognise, having been on the
  Committee of the 1987 Ministry of Defence Police Bill, that organisations
  evolve and I do not quarrel with that.  I think what has taken us all by
  surprise is the way in which the clauses have been tagged on to this Bill,
  though that should not be a surprise, as you quite rightly suggest, because
  every Armed Forces Bill tends to be a bit of a Christmas tree, and this is
  indeed far less of a Christmas tree than the last one was.  However, what you
  describe as modest changes I would describe as incremental changes and a lot
  is happening.  For example, we have seen the Ministry of Defence Police being
  deployed in Kosovo where they are de facto an armed gendarmerie, which is
  something we have not had.  There may be nothing wrong with that.  We have
  also seen ---
        (Mr Hoon)   Sorry to interrupt you, but alongside members of the Royal
  Ulster Constabulary.
        1110.    Indeed, yes.  We have also seen last week your other private
  police force on the sovereign base areas in Cyprus ---
        (Mr Comben) I do not think ---
        1111.    There are no Ministry of Defence Police there but we have
  seen the police on the sovereign bases, and I suspect in the next Bill they
  might be tagged on with some changes.  I do not have any quarrel with that
  either.  We have also heard compelling evidence from the Ministry of Defence
  Police that they want to be more like regular Home Department police services. 
  One area in particular I am interested in is the inspection of the Ministry
  of Defence Police by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary.  Would it be
  welcomed if Her Majesty's Inspectors were able to inspect the Ministry of
  Defence Police not on an ad hoc basis but on exactly the same basis as they
  inspect Home Office forces at the moment?
        (Mr Hoon)   There is very little difference.  They already do inspect the
  Ministry of Defence Police.  I am surprised that you see that as a problem. 
  It is already part of the normal process of accountability that they are
  inspected by HMI.
        1112.    Yes, except that under the Police Acts, the Home Office
  police are statutorily required to be inspected, whereas there is nothing in
  statute law and nothing in the Ministry of Defence Police Act, and I am merely
  suggesting it might be helpful if there was.
        (Mr Hoon)   You could table an amendment and I suspect the Government
  might look kindly on that.
        1113.    Thank you very much.  I said that there may be an incremental
  development as a more gendarmerie approach is taken, but I wonder if you could
  explain something in the Future Strategic Context of Defence which your
  Department published last month - and I am not trying to catch you out here,
  Secretary of State; not that I would - and I know it is not Government policy
  but it is quite an interesting point that we have here, under the Political
  Dimensions on page 17, the comment is that "crime, terrorism and political
  extremism may increasingly require a military element to the Government
  response".  I accept that, that is a wholly sensible proposition, and I wonder
  if there is in the longer term any vision that you have or the Department has
  about extending the Ministry of Defence Police in that way to cope with that
  sort of threat to our society.
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not think it is a question of longer term vision.  Part
  of the reason for improving co-ordination between Home Office police forces
  and the Ministry of Defence Police undoubtedly is to ensure that when we are
  faced with heightened tension as a result of terrorist incidents - and we are
  in that situation today and you only have to go out on Whitehall to be much
  more aware of the level of police presence today than it has been in recent
  times, quite rightly given the threat that we face - we should have available
  appropriately trained people to deal with that heightened threat.  Part of the
  reason for encouraging the kind of co-operation that these modest proposals
  make is in order to ensure that we have appropriate numbers of personnel to
  fulfil those responsibilities.  Given that defence bases are a most likely
  target for terrorist attack, it is absolutely right that we should enhance
  that co-operation between Home Office police forces and Ministry of Defence
  Police, again because if there was a shortage of police officers to carry out
  those functions, I anticipate that you might be amongst the first to complain
  about it.
                              Mr Randall
        1114.    Secretary of State, I think we understand the point entirely
  about providing MDP officers with the legal status in the sort of situation
  you described, if any member of the public were in a situation and they saw
  a uniformed police officer, superficially exactly the same but without that
  legal status, they would be disappointed if they did not come to their aid. 
  Given that, that probably means after the passing of this Act, MDP officers
  are probably more likely to be in contact with the general public, or
  potentially.  Given that MDP officers themselves want this legal status to be
  clarified, do you think there should be more public accountability for them
  for their own sake?
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not accept the premise because Ministry of Defence
  Police are dealing with the defence estate and large numbers of members of the
  public, certainly large numbers of civilians, are routinely on defence bases,
  and they are trained in exactly the way that Home Office police officers are
  trained to deal with the public.  Nothing we are proposing here is going to
  change that.  The specific technical reason for extending their
  responsibilities and their jurisdiction to apprehending emergencies between
  bases is for the reason I have described, which is to ensure they are not in
  any doubt as to their legal power to intervene if a member of the public were
  subject to an attack in their presence.
        1115.    I understand from that you do not think there should be any
  more public accountability of the force?
        (Mr Hoon)   I think you would have to persuade me in the first place that
  there was any lack of public accountability.  I have explained already in
  answer to an earlier question that the Ministry of Defence Police are
  accountable through me to Parliament; Members of Parliament routinely write
  about the police force for which I am responsible.  I am certainly interested
  in any concerns that you might have about the lack of accountability but I am
  not clear in my own mind as to where the criticism lies.
        1116.    Could you take me through the complaints procedure I would
  have?  Does the MDP come under the Police Complaints Authority?
        (Mr Hoon)   Yes.
        1117.    Under the full jurisdiction?
        (Mr Hoon)   Yes.
        1118.    So that if something happened, I, as a civilian away from a
  base at some incident, would go through exactly the same complaints procedure
  as I would with my local Met police?
        (Mr Comben) You would go through exactly the same procedure whether
  the Ministry of Defence Police officer was on MOD land, outside of it, on duty
  or off duty.  The arrangements are absolutely identical.  We have our PCA
  member the same as any other force.  There is regular contact certainly on a
  weekly contact basis with the PCA, and with the CPS and the Procurator Fiscal
  in respect of criminal allegations of course.
        (Mr Hoon)   And bear in mind in most of the circumstances, I think all
  but two, of the extension of jurisdiction as proposed in these modest clauses,
  the Ministry of Defence Police officer would be subject to the responsibility
  of the chief constable of the area in question with whom he had made an
  agreement.  In those circumstances, that police officer would be subject and
  accountable in precisely the same way as a police officer in the Metropolitan
  area is currently subject.
        1119.    So the public need have no fears that somewhere it will get
  lost in the Ministry?
        (Mr Hoon)   No.
        (Mr Comben) It does not go to the Ministry.
        (Mr Hoon)   Most of the circumstances we are dealing with would be where,
  as a result of an agreement between, say, the Chief Constable of
  Nottinghamshire, where my constituency is located, and the Ministry of Defence
  Police, that Ministry of Defence Police officer was in effect allocated to the
  responsibility of the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire.  Therefore, whatever
  actions he or she undertook about which you were concerned would be subject
  to the authority of the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire and subject
  obviously, as has been said, to the Police Complaints Authority and the other
  processes by which police officers generally are held accountable.
                              Mr Crausby
        1120.    You cited an example of a member of the Ministry of Defence
  Police not being able to assist a member of the public under attack, and we
  all sympathise with that.
        (Mr Hoon)   I am not saying that even at the moment they would
  necessarily walk on by.  What I am saying is that they do not have the legal
  powers which would be available to a police officer, they would be in no
  different position from any other member of the public, which I think is
  unfortunate given that to that member of the public they would appear to be
  a police officer because they would be wearing a uniform and would behave very
  much like a police officer.  I can see no good reason why they should not
  enjoy the same legal rights as any other police officer in that situation.
        1121.    Have there been any complaints about Ministry of Defence
  police officers in those circumstances not assisting a member of the public? 
  I rather think probably not.  I am sure if that had been the case, we would
  all immediately know about it.  Is this not more about the strategic use of
  the Ministry of Defence Police?  The example which has been cited is the fuel
  protests, but I am sure there are other, quite reasonable political protests
  of all kinds, and that may well be an appropriate use of the MOD Police, but
  is that not the main motivation?  To what extent would the Chief Constable of
  the MDP have jurisdiction over that?  Would the Chief Constable of the MDP be
  able to say no to a request from another chief constable?
        (Mr Hoon)   I have explained to you the motivation and I do not accept
  there is any different or ulterior motive, I have set that out clearly in
  answer to the very first question I faced.  There has been one specific
  incident where a colonel in the USAF was attacked and a Ministry of Defence
  Police officer came to his assistance and it was not clear that the Ministry
  of Defence Police officer had the range of legal powers which would have been
  available to a police officer otherwise.  There is no ulterior purpose.  I
  think you have to answer the question very clearly in your own mind whether
  you are happy for people who look like police officers to be given exacting
  responsibilities on behalf of the community but yet not have the appropriate
  legal protection in the event of those police officers carrying out those
  exacting responsibilities to the best of their abilities.  If we were
  discussing a police officer in your constituency, I doubt you would be asking
  that question.
                               Mr Keetch
        1122.    Of course I want that police officer to be able to act and
  work as a normal police officer would, but I also want him to be accountable. 
  You have explained accountability in terms of local protocols, but the fact
  of the matter is that at national level the MDP are accountable to a Ministry
  of Defence committee comprising simply of service people and police officers,
  there is no civilian input on that committee.
        (Mr Comben) That is not right, there are some.
        1123.    Perhaps you could detail exactly what that is.  Could you
  also answer, if that officer going from one base to another intervenes to save
  somebody, at that point is he accountable to the chief constable of the MDP
  or is he, as was alluded to earlier, accountable to the chief constable of the
  Home Department force he happens to be in?
        (Mr Hoon)   With great respect, I think you are mixing up a number of
  different issues here.  Accountability in the sense that we would normally use
  it is political accountability, that is the ability of Parliament, Members of
  Parliament, to determine for example policy questions, to deal with issues
  relating to, say, overall organisation.  Your example also concerns a
  particular judgment made by a police officer and what would happen in the
  event of that judgment being proved to be wrong.  The two things are different
  and it is important to distinguish them and not to confuse them in the way you
  have done.  As far as political accountability is concerned, and we have dealt
  with this to some extent already, I cannot see there is any reason why the
  Ministry of Defence Police should not be politically accountable through the
  Secretary of State for Defence.  I do not see any difficulty about that,
  subject to the committee which exists which has, I think off the top of my
  head, three lay members plus a representative of non-industrial trade unions
  and a representative of families I think.
        (Mr Legge)  The three external members include the last two.  It is a
  mixture of Ministry of Defence civilians, chaired by the Second Permanent
  Under-Secretary if the Minister is not chairing, plus service officers, plus
  external police advisers who are nothing to do with the Ministry of Defence
  Police, plus three external members.
        1124.    But accountability also refers to the community they serve
  and local police forces have community consultative committees, for example. 
  Where is the accountability to the people they will be coming across on their
  duties?  Where is the accountability to the civilian they go to assist?  I
  understand the accountability to you as Secretary of State, but where is the
  accountability to the community?
        (Mr Hoon)   The community that the Ministry of Defence Police by and
  large serves is the community on the defence estate, which is why, for
  example, there is a representative of the families who live very often on
  those estates.  So to that extent accountability is dealt with by their
  presence on the committee.  In the event of there being - and what we are
  dealing with here is relatively exceptional powers - an emergency arising
  between bases where a Ministry of Defence Police officer was travelling from
  one base to another and an incident occurred in which he intervened, I am not
  wholly persuaded there needs to be any additional accountability other than
  through the committee and ultimately to the Secretary of State for Defence.
        1125.    So that police officer is not accountable to the local Home
  Department chief constable?  He still remains accountable to the Ministry of
  Defence chief constable?
        (Mr Hoon)   What is set out is that ultimately, and as quickly as
  possible once the incident had been resolved, there would be a presence on the
  scene of a police officer from the Herefordshire or whatever county police
  force or other police force as appropriate, and at that point they would
  assume responsibility for resolving the incident, they would take
  responsibility for charging anyone, for any further proceedings which were
  required, and at that point it would pass to their responsibility and
  therefore to the traditional accountability of our Home Office police forces. 
  I do want to emphasise that this is a relatively exceptional circumstance,
  which is why I am entirely comfortable in describing it as a modest change,
  because it is to deal with the kind of situation I have described, where a
  Ministry of Defence Police officer apprehends an incident in the course of
  travelling from one base to another.
                               Mr Davies
        1126.    I wonder if we could look at the longer term role and
  rationale for having this rather special police force as you envisage them. 
  The humanitarian peace-making, peace-keeping, Petersberg-type operations, in
  which our Armed Forces seem increasingly to be involved, often involve a
  policing role and need for policemen, and we saw that quite dramatically the
  other day when we visited Kosovo and we were grateful for that opportunity. 
  Do you see the Ministry of Defence Police increasingly playing that kind of
  role in such situations and are you making arrangements, for example, by way
  of training or otherwise to ensure it can play that role if necessary on a
  more regular basis?
        (Mr Hoon)   I think that is a very fair question and one that we
  certainly need to address, subject to resources and the availability of
  people.  I say it is a fair question because one of the clear lessons we had
  to learn from Kosovo was not only the purely military lesson that we require
  certain kinds of forces to intervene when a crisis of that kind arises, one
  of the other and I think possibly in the longer term more significant lessons
  we had to learn is that when an area like Kosovo suffers the devastation it
  had suffered, not only under its previous Government but also as a result of
  intense civilian disorder, all of its traditional administration structures
  are shattered, and what we found ourselves doing in the aftermath of British
  forces going into Kosovo was not actually a military judgment, although that
  was very important, it was how do we find people from, frankly, around the
  world who can go in and replace the previous civil administration in order to
  make that area function.  One of the key requests, as you have rightly
  referred to, was for police officers.  One of the difficulties which the
  United Kingdom had at that point was that the kind of police officers they
  required were armed police officers, and we simply, stating the obvious, do
  not have many people who have appropriate training in order to go to a place
  like Kosovo where they expected to see armed police officers on the street,
  which is why the Ministry of Defence Police officers have gone and have been
  doing a magnificent job alongside members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary. 
  What I cannot do in answer to your question, which is as I say a very fair
  question, is commit ourselves to a long-term situation where we would be
  sending either RUC officers or Ministry of Defence Police officers into those
  kind of situations, but it is clearly my view an issue which is going to arise
  in the future because, as your question very fairly indicates, it is not
  simply a military response that we need in order to rebuild a place like
        1127.    Clearly you cannot commit the Ministry of Defence Police or
  indeed any part of the Armed Services to any operation in the future because
  we do not know what is going to happen, but we are both agreed that these
  humanitarian or peace-keeping, Petersberg-type missions are likely to occur
  in the future - it would be very nice if the world was more stable but it
  probably will not be.  Insofar as you have to prepare to deploy our Armed
  Forces in this new role and you have made arrangements for that in terms of
  training, equipment and preparing them for this expeditionary role, I just
  wondered whether in parallel to that you were looking to see whether or not
  the Ministry of Defence Police might need additional types of training, might
  need to take into account different criteria to recruit people, indeed warning
  them or letting them know they might have an opportunity to serve in such
  situations.  It seems to me it might change the profile of those whom you
  recruit.  There may also be issues about equipment and communications and so
  forth and I wondered to what extent you are taking concrete measures to
  address this possibility in parallel with the changes we have made, rightly
  I think, in the Armed Forces to make them more readily deployable?
        (Mr Comben) Perhaps I can offer something in response to that.
        1128.    Of course, but I would like the Secretary of State to
  comment, if I might, Chief Constable, because it is very important we get a
  political steer here as to where the Government is looking in policy terms.
        (Mr Comben) Certainly, but if I could come in on some of the specifics
  about training, and the Secretary of State could pick it up after me, I am
  sure.  All police forces in the United Kingdom have been consulted about what
  assistance they can contribute to the United Kingdom response to the needs
  which the Secretary of State has said, and the amount of assistance that the
  wider police service is giving to Kosovo and to eastern bloc countries is
  enormous.  When it came to the particular requirements of Kosovo, it was clear
  that the RUC were a force able to respond and they went first, but no force
  in Britain, including the MDP, can supply resources to another country in a
  way which neglects their core business back home.  So the MDP were second in
  line and we have given assistance.  The officers had their basic police
  training, they were all trained to the same national standard, so the Foreign
  Office and the United Nations had no problem with the basic training they had. 
  They had fire arms training, there was no problem with that, they underwent
  medical inspections and that kind of thing, the same as everybody else, and
  we gave them some additional training for the kind of things they might come
  across in Kosovo which they would not come across in England.  For example,
  I have some experience of mass exhumations and that kind of thing from my time
  in the Metropolitan Police, so I personally gave them some instruction on what
  they might come across if they came across mass burials and what we might call
  terrorist burials and that kind of thing.  But we have been asked to give that
  training to other Home Office forces which might go out there.  So we have
  this strength of the basic abilities of our officers, on top of that there was
  the fire arms training which was absolutely needed, but all police officers
  might need some small amount of additional training depending on the
  environment they are going to go into.
        (Mr Hoon)   You will be aware that we maintain lists of the availability
  of different kinds of Armed Forces which might be used in particular kinds of
  crises, either at the request of the United Nations or any other international
  organisation.  This work is not yet particularly advanced but it has struck
  me that one of the consequences of Kosovo which we need to recognise is that
  the international community will need to start thinking about not only what
  kind of Armed Forces are available to deal with crises but what happens after
  that.  Because one of the practical difficulties of deploying Armed Forces
  into the Balkans, undoubtedly, and no doubt you will comment on this in due
  course, is that there is a risk those Armed Forces are stuck there, and if the
  commitment of the SDR is about rapidly deployable forces, they need to be
  rapidly deployable out as well as into a crisis.  It is not appropriate to
  abandon countries once they have had military intervention without ensuring
  there is policing, a legal system and administration which is at least capable
  of functioning.  So it does seem to me that one of the areas where I would
  like to see more work in the United Nations is looking around the world at who
  might make those kinds of people available and in what circumstances and at
  what sort of notice.  We were very fortunate as a country when the request
  came for armed police officers to go to Kosovo that we had the Ministry of
  Defence Police and we had the Royal Ulster Constabulary with the appropriate
  training because, frankly, otherwise we would not have been able to
                               Mr Davies
        1129.    I think we are making some interesting progress in this
  interchange, Mr Hoon, and we probably do not see things very differently.  I
  conclude from what you are saying - and we all know in Kosovo there was great
  difficulty in NATO countries supplying the policemen they had undertaken to
  do - that first of all you think it is not right (and it is very expensive of
  course to use) armed service personnel when policemen could be used and often
  it is better to use trained policemen in a trained police role.  However, that
  role is sometimes necessary to support the role of the armed services in order
  to restore stability in a part of the world and then to take over from them
  when you move away from a shooting war or the danger of one and therefore it
  would be sensible to incorporate this particular resource which is under your
  control, as we know, in your general plan for these Petersberg tasks. 
  Although of course the police personnel it might be drawn from might not be
  limited to the MDP, it might be sensible to have the MDP as the kernel of any
  force to be deployed.  Is that a reasonable inference from what you have just
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not think that is unreasonable but I will look at it as
  another spending commitment by the Opposition!
        Chairman:   It is an extremely crucial and topical area.  I attended a
  two and a half day seminar last year debating very much this issue of where
  does the military role cease and the police role come in in the sort of
  situation you are talking about.
                               Mr Davies
        1130.    Can I in one sentence say that the whole logic of what I have
  just said is that in many cases it might be much cheaper to carry out a given
  role if you could call on trained police officers rather than to keep the
  military somewhere longer which you otherwise need do.
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not know whether that remark was addressed to me,
  Chairman, but if it was we could perhaps hear from the Opposition as to where
  they would like to withdraw British forces.
        Chairman:   We could have a full day debate on this issue alone.  Mr Key?
                                Mr Key
        1131.    Secretary of State, just to make the point that we have not
  spent our time exclusively discussing Ministry of Defence Police may I broaden
  the discussion a little.  Concerning Parts II and III of the Bill we were told
  by forces law and civilian solicitors that one of the problems they have is
  that only a part of the law governing service personnel is statute law, quite
  a lot of it is derived from other sources whether it is Queen's Regulations
  or Defence Council.  I specifically tabled a question on this asking for a
  number of documents to be placed in the Library, the Unit Folder entitled
  Military Custody: a Summary Dealing with Systems, the Provost Manual, the Army
  Commissioning Regulations, and a further list, and the Minister of State very
  kindly replied a few days later to say that, "Yes these will be placed in
  Library of the House", but he did say these were "dynamic documents which were
  subject to frequent updates".  Since that time, and I tabled the question on
  2nd February and the Minister of State answered on the 7th, the Library of the
  House has three times requested the parliamentary branch of the Ministry of
  Defence to put those papers in the House and three times they have been
  refused.  It makes my point for me - that if solicitors are finding it
  difficult to represent their clients because documentation is not available
  to solicitors, and if your Department is not willing to place papers in the
  Library that the Minister has said will be placed in the Library, then I feel
  that we are entirely justified in pointing out there is a problem.  This is
  a request to you not to suddenly produce them out of a hat but to please look
  into this because it makes the point about some of the bits of grit that have
  got into the system somewhere.
        (Mr Hoon)   I will.
        Mr Key:  Thank you.
                              Mr Randall
        1132.    If I could just return to the motivation, the reasoning
  behind it ---
        (Mr Hoon)   We are back to the Ministry of Defence Police?
        1133.    The Ministry of Defence Police.  Could I just ask you whether
  you would know who instigated it, whether it was the Ministry itself or the
  MDP who came to you and said this situation was really not on? 
        (Mr Hoon)   Mr Legge, here is your chance!
        (Mr Legge)  Since I have lived with this for the last four and a half
  years, the proposals came from the former Chief Constable of the Ministry of
  Defence Police.  As the Secretary of State has said, on the basis of
  experience of practical operating with the Ministry of Defence Police officers
  over a period of time, he discovered, the force discovered a number of
  difficulties.  These very limited and specific amendments are designed to
  overcome those difficulties.
        1134.    Over four and a half years ago this instigation came?
        (Mr Hoon)   Could I add to that there is also a political, government
  process in all departments that take ideas of that kind, refines them, looks
  at whether there are deficiencies and brings forward recommendations, but that
  would not be unusual in any department.
        (Mr Legge)  And quite a lot of the delay, which comes back to an earlier
  question, was finding a legislative vehicle that we could use to put these
  amendments before the House.  Parliamentary time is very limited, as you know.
        (Mr Comben) If I could add to that just so that the picture is fully
  appreciated, and I was there in those earliest days and witnessed it, the
  difficulties that we experienced on the ground, that individual officers
  experienced on the ground obviously came to the attention of senior officers
  of the force first in a number of ways, but they then came to the attention
  of the Police Committee because we report quarterly to the Police Committee
  on operational matters, on operational successes, but also on operational
  difficulties.  The case that we have mentioned earlier on about the United
  States' Airforce colonel was presented to the Police Committee in the very
  earliest days.  We had some of it on video and they were shown the video and
  saw the difficulties and saw the way that the police officer wanted to do
  something and was prevented because of the restrictions of the jurisdiction,
  so from the earliest days the MDP Chief Constable and his senior colleagues
  brought it to the Police Committee and from that moment it went into the
  departmental and ultimately political chain that brought it here.
        1135.    Finally, again to show we are not obsessed with the MDP, a
  question that has come up is the tri-service aspect and bringing forward a
  Tri-Service Act within five years.  How much priority does the Ministry put
  on that? 
        (Mr Hoon)   The Ministry puts a great deal of priority on it, but
  obviously this is an enormous process in trying to reconcile a long history
  of three different services with very different cultures and traditions which
  have produced over very many years different approaches to discipline.  We
  would very much like to be able to bring forward legislation to reconcile
  those differences and that is a stated aim of the Department in the Strategic
  Defence Review.  It also strikes me as being good common sense.  I cannot see
  any reason in principle why someone in the RAF should be dealt with in
  discipline terms significantly differently from someone in the Navy or Army. 
  It is important we achieve that, but it first of all will require a good deal
  of detailed work to get to that stage.
        1136.    I appreciate that. 
        (Mr Hoon)   Secondly, it will require a significant piece of
  parliamentary legislation to achieve that.  It will be one of the more
  exciting Bills on which you will be able to serve in the future as you deal
  with a great mass of legal technicalities affecting the different services! 
  Obviously whilst it is a priority for the Department we have to find
  appropriate legislative time in Parliament in order to bring that forward and,
  frankly, we take a judgment that it is much better to do that properly rather
  than rush it through and we recognise there are difficulties in the way.
        1137.    I do understand that and thank you for the hint on that one.
        (Mr Hoon)   I am sure your Whips' Office could propose you for that.
        1138.    What I would ask on that is is it being worked on now in a
  committed way or is it working to deadlines so that two years before the
  Quinquennial comes up for a renewal again suddenly there will be a scurry of
  activity and people will say, "Oh my goodness, the Tri-Service Act, how far
  have we got? 
        (Mr Hoon)   Can you answer that?
        (Mr Legge)  No, I am afraid I cannot, I am not involved on that side of
        (Mr Hoon)   It is being worked on but it is a long process.  We are not
  talking about weeks or months, we are talking about years.
        1139.    Five years or less? 
        (Mr Hoon)   I do not want to give you a deadline because it is subject to
  trying to find appropriate mechanisms for achieving it, and they are not all
  that obvious.  I made the point lightly that there is no reason in principle
  why someone from the RAF should be treated differently but there are cultural
  and practical differences that have to be taken account of, so it is a very
  time-consuming and difficult process.
        1140.    It sounds like one where regular Parliamentary Questions
  might be a mechanism for keeping it high up on the agenda.
        (Mr Hoon)   I will give you regular Parliamentary Answers.
        1141.    Can I bring this session towards a close but give you the
  opportunity, Secretary of State, or yourself, Mr Comben, or yourself, Mr
  Legge, to make any final points you wish to make. 
        (Mr Hoon)   I simply want to thank all the members of the Committee for
  agreeing to meet at this time when I know they would have preferred going out
  to express the good news of the Budget to their constituents!
        Chairman:   Thank you very much indeed for an extremely useful evidence