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Earl Howe: The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, has made a most interesting suggestion in his amendment. Let me say first that we fully recognise that before he enters into a special agreement under Part IV, the reservist should be made aware of the effects of the agreement and that this should include appropriate information on the schemes of financial assistance provided for in Part VIII of the Bill. He would of course be given up-to-date information on these should he be called out.
We also recognise that the success of this scheme will depend in part on the information available to the employer and this might include information on the schemes of financial assistance. The employer would in all cases need to be given up-to-date information on this subject when the employee was actually called out, or was about to be called out. All reservists who are called out, whether under Part IV or under the general powers in Part VI, have the same rights to financial assistance under Clause 85. Their employers have rights to financial assistance under Clause 86 and this clause specifically provides for financial assistance for the self-employed. The details of the schemes will be in regulations, and the Bill imposes a duty of consultation before they are made.
It would, however, be difficult to detail fully the financial implications of call-out for a reservist or an employer since they will vary from case to case and over time, depending on individual circumstances. While we can provide relevant information, it would ultimately be for the reservist and the employer respectively to decide whether the implications--financial and otherwise--were acceptable.
I cannot agree with the noble Lord about the way to implement his proposal regarding the establishment of a statutory agency within the Adjutant-General's Corps. As far as reservists are concerned, the provision of the relevant information is properly a matter for the chain of command. It would not be in the interests of the services to have individuals entering into this level of commitment who were ill-informed about what it entailed. The detailed information and the arrangements for its provision must remain a matter for the service, and I do not believe it is a matter for the Bill.
While I have spent some little time in answering the noble Lord, I hope that it will nevertheless have been helpful, because I believe the practice will recognise the overall concern that he has expressed. In the light of what I have said, I trust that he will feel comfortable in withdrawing the amendment at this stage.
Lord Redesdale: The Minister has raised two points on which I wish to come back. First, although he said it is a responsibility of the chain of command--and I ultimately believe that must be the case to a certain degree--we are talking about a very specialised area. It will not affect a very large number of people and in many units it will not affect anyone at all. In some units it might only affect one or two soldiers. Therefore, with the high turnover inside the Territorial Army, there might not be the expertise or the information might not be understood properly by the chain of command.
I realise that the Adjutant-General's Corps is perhaps not the right vehicle. I mention it only to give an example. Within the chain of command of a Territorial Army unit it is often the case that very few people will be in a position to explain carefully and clearly to many of the soldiers exactly what will be involved in one of these special agreements. Will there be a system by which that soldier can consult a particular individual about the special circumstances he will find himself in? I hope the Minister can give some information on that point.
Earl Howe: We recognise that it is extremely important for full and up-to-date information to be available. On that we are at one. One of the mechanisms by which we will achieve that is to have simple, straightforward leaflets available, setting out the salient facts. Those leaflets will be readily available. A man reading such a leaflet will be able at least to know who to ask if there are other questions that need answering. We will set about this exercise in a way which, I hope, ensures that information is easy to obtain and is up to date.
Lord Redesdale: I thank the Minister for that reply. I do not have the same faith in leaflets that he does. I have used other leaflets within the Territorial Army before. However, I do not think I can press him any further at this point. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Earl Attlee: Clause 38 is a paving amendment for the sponsored reserve. I have serious reservations as to the wisdom of this provision. First, no one I have talked to on the staff, apart from possibly the RAF, has any idea about what the requirement for the sponsored reserve is.
Members of the Territorial Army are genuine volunteers. Even soldiers in the Regular Army make a conscious decision to join Her Majesty's armed services. They are not coerced into it. My fear is that people will join the Territorial Army via the sponsored reserve for entirely the wrong reasons. In other words, a chap may be desperate for a job, he then finds a job and the only snag with it is that he has to be in the TA. The employers will say "Don't worry about it, the training requirements are minimum, it's a good wheeze", and so on. Therefore the chap will take the job, and then when he is called out he may not want to serve.
As I mentioned, the training apparently will be elementary. Even the defence industry itself is not sure about the wisdom of the sponsored reserve. Contract difficulties are foreseen in drawing up the necessary arrangements. The management of the sponsored reservist in the TA will cause problems. Where will the individual sponsored reservist train? If he is working for, say, Perkins, will he train at the nearest TA centre? Will he go to a central volunteer headquarters? Where will he be trained? What will be the rank structure? These clearly, we are told, will be for technical specialists, and therefore they must have a certain status within the organisation in which they are working in theatre, so therefore will they be senior NCOs? Will they have power of command over other proper soldiers? What will be the effect on the UK fourth line? I fear there will be a reduction in the surge capacity of industry. I have a number of concerns about the sponsored reserve, and I would be very grateful if the Minister could reassure me. I beg to move.
Earl Howe: It may be helpful to the Committee if I briefly set out the background to the sponsored reserve concept which Clause 38 introduces. Some support provided by regulars for the armed forces requires the application of skills that are predominantly civilian in nature. However, it cannot be provided by civilians because it might have to be delivered under operational circumstances when it could well be crucial to the success of an operation.
The provisions of Part V would allow civilians to undertake support tasks of this type by enabling them to assume suitably tailored liabilities for training, call-out and permanent service. They could then be called out, if that ever became appropriate, to continue operationally the tasks which they had been performing in peace time.
I believe that the sponsored reserve concept has great potential value, for it will permit us to open additional support tasks to market testing. Market testing will discover whether savings can be achieved while maintaining the level of peace time and operational support required. Any savings that can be achieved will allow a greater proportion of our resources to be devoted to more front-line tasks. This is entirely in accordance with the Government's policy--Front Line First.
If the Committee will allow, I will briefly mention two other benefits of the arrangements. First, maintenance of equipment under operational conditions by sponsored reservists, who as civilians are employed by the defence industry, will inevitably lead to industry having a better understanding of the service's requirements. Secondly, the operational involvement of certain contract personnel is likely to reinforce their understanding of the importance of their peace time work to the Armed Forces.
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