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Earl Howe: I am grateful to both the noble Lords who have spoken. The noble Earl, Lord Attlee, raised two points in his amendment which I know are of concern in the Territorial Army. I must say that I find myself in sympathy with much of it.

He is proposing, in essence, that time spent performing full-time service under a commitment as provided in Clause 24 of the Bill should count towards the time required to earn entitlement to the Territorial Decoration and the Territorial Efficiency Medal.

At present the time required to earn the Territorial Decoration and the Territorial Efficiency Medal must generally be spent continuously in the Territorial Army. We have not yet fully considered the rules which might apply to service under a Clause 24 agreement. I understand, however, that TA personnel joining the Regular Army on short service volunteer commissions and special S-type engagements may count that service towards their Territorial decoration or efficiency medal. I see no reason why the same should not apply to service under Clause 24, although, as I say, no decision has yet been made.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, made a similar point in connection with the eligibility for such awards of those serving on special agreements under Part IV. The same remarks apply there. I should add for the benefit of the Committee that eligibility for medals and awards is governed entirely by prerogative, and is therefore not an appropriate matter for the Bill. But I will take away the views of the Committee, with which I find myself in sympathy.

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The way in which full-time service under Clause 24 will affect entitlement to bounty has not yet been decided. We envisage that some types of full-time service would qualify for full regular rates of pay. It might be seen as unfair to regulars for such service to earn bounty as well. I can assure the noble Earl that I am very much aware of the strength of feeling that surrounds the issue of bounty in the Territorial Army and I believe that the concerns on this point should be drawn to the attention of the appropriate service authorities. I shall certainly do that. However, the details of such matters are properly matters for the various reserve forces regulations rather than this Bill.

I hope that, having heard those remarks, the noble Earl will feel able to withdraw his amendment.

Earl Attlee: I thank the noble Earl the Minister for that reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 24 agreed to.

Clause 25 [Additional duties commitments]:

Earl Attlee moved Amendment No. 15:

Page 11, line 4, after ("duties,") insert ("including participation in operations,").

The noble Earl said: This amendment inserts the words "including participation in operations". It is a probing amendment to see how far the clause goes. Can the Minister confirm that there is absolutely no limit on what a TA soldier can be doing under this clause?

Earl Howe: Let me say immediately that the sense of the noble Earl's amendment is quite correct. We do wish reservists serving under Clause 25 to be able to undertake operational duties. However, the same is true of those serving under full-time commitment in Clause 24. We intend that reservists undertaking voluntary duties under Clause 27(1)(b) could take part in disaster relief operations.

The effect of the amendment would be to imply that the word "duties", when used elsewhere in the Bill, did not include operational duties. That would severely constrain the flexibility that the Bill would bring to the reserve forces. I hope that those remarks have clarified the position for the noble Earl.

Earl Attlee: I thank the noble Earl. Can we therefore understand that the word "duties" includes operations?

Earl Howe: The word "duties" is not defined in the Bill. It is understood to mean any activity which the individual may lawfully be required to carry out as a member of a force.

Earl Attlee: I thank the noble Earl for that reply. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment standing in my name.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 25 agreed to.

Clause 26 [Parliamentary control of commitments]:

[Amendment No. 16 not moved.]

Clause 26 agreed to.

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On Question, Whether Clause 27 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Williams of Elvel: Clause 27 deals with voluntary training and other duties. I wonder if the noble Earl could help me on what are relatively little matters. It is perfectly clear that the general thrust of the clause is right and acceptable but certain questions do arise. For instance, what happens if somebody wishes to undertake voluntary training? Who pays for that? Who meets the bill? Who meets the transport cost and the training cost? Is there any arrangement in force to ensure that the volunteer is not penalised? How will this all work in practice both financially and in terms of people's employment? I should be most grateful if the noble Earl could give us the Government's view on how this will work in the future.

Earl Howe: This clause formalises the existing arrangements under which members of the reserve forces carry out more than their statutory obligations. It explicitly allows them to carry out duties as well as training. The reserve forces can only function because so many of their members volunteer to carry out duties and training well beyond their minimum obligations. This clause simply gives a clear legal basis for this, and provides that an individual carrying out extra training or duties is subject to service law, which is what one would expect.

Under this clause members of the reserve forces could take advantage of any opportunities for training or duty which became available at short notice. It would also allow for those who were available to perform ad hoc tasks such as providing additional manpower in times of disruption caused by severe weather or something of that kind.

The noble Lord asked about the financial arrangements in connection with voluntary duties. Obviously the key point is that an individual performs his statutory requirement, his statutory duty, before the voluntary element comes into play. There are arrangements for unpaid training set out in TA regulations; that training is either like normal training but personnel voluntarily agree to forego the pay that they would have received, or it is training of limited value and whilst on duty the individual concerned does not incur a cost to the MoD. My explanation has reached its conclusion. I shall gladly take advice on the precise financial arrangements which apply and, if necessary, we can return to this at a later stage and I shall be delighted to elucidate the Committee further.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am most grateful to the noble Earl. I should be quite happy to receive a letter from him--which perhaps he might send to other Members of the Committee--on the precise details that, perhaps purely because of my limited comprehension, have not managed to get through to me.

Clause 27 agreed to.

Clause 28 [Special agreements]:

5.30 p.m.

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 17:

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Page 12, line 38, leave out ("in qualifying employment").

The noble Lord said: Amendment No. 17 stands in my name and those of my noble friends. Of course it is not the intention to leave out the expression "in qualifying employment" because that is an important expression in Part IV. Nevertheless, I should be grateful if the noble Earl could give us a definition, quite apart from the definition in the explanatory Clause 37, of qualifying employment. Is someone who is self-employed, a partner in a business, who may have, "a contract of service which normally involves employment for 14 hours" excluded? It could be a variable contract or it could be shift work. I am bound to say that I am a little confused about what "qualifying employment" really means and whether self-employed people and partners in businesses are excluded under this definition of "qualifying employment". I should be most grateful if the noble Earl could help me on the matter. I beg to move.

Earl Howe: I am grateful to the noble Lord for introducing this amendment. Provisions for employers' consent have been influenced to no small degree by the consultation process that we carried out. We need to safeguard the legitimate interests of employers without excessive administration, while maintaining as far as possible the assured availability of the individuals for call out. What we wanted to allow for in the Bill was the fact that a proportion of reservists would not be in traditional, full-time employment. We wanted to protect the interests of the employer for whom a reservist works for, say, half the week but without giving a veto over the special agreement to, say, the landlord for whom the reservist serves drinks on one evening a week. That is why we introduced the concept of "qualifying employment". We have set the threshold at 14 hours a week, which is just less than two normal working days or their equivalent. There is provision in Clause 37(4) for that figure to be reduced if it seems appropriate to do so in future years. For the moment, however, we believe 14 hours to be right.

The noble Lord asked me about partnerships and the self-employed. The clause does not apply to either and in fact it would be difficult to legislate effectively to intervene in a business relationship of the kind that a partnership embodies. Indeed, legally speaking, neither the self-employed nor partners are employed people.

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