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Lord Williams of Elvel: I should be grateful if the noble Earl could clarify something. As I understand the position--I may be quite wrong but I raise the matter for clarification--there seems to be a maximum period of service for a person who has been accepted under a recall order into the regular forces. Is that the case or is it still the nine months which applies to reservists?

Earl Howe: Clause 72 provides that "on release", in the case of officers, and "discharge", in the case of men,

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the individual will cease to be a member of the regular service to which he was recalled, and will revert to being a civilian. If he is under the maximum age for recall, he will remain liable to be recalled again, subject to the limit on the aggregated service that can be required within a six-year period, set out in Clause 69. Subsections (3) and (4) permit those whose acceptance into service has been delayed through no fault of their own to be treated as if they had reported earlier than they did. Subsection (5) permits the trial by court martial of a person who would normally be entitled to be released or discharged for an offence committed while he was subject to service law.

The noble Lord asked me a specific question. He said that he could not see where there was a maximum period of service specified for those subject to a recall order. Clause 69(2) sets out the limit as three years in any six and Clause 69(5) permits extension to five years in six. I am not sure whether that answers his point fully but I hope it does.

Lord Williams of Elvel: Am I right in thinking that under Clause 69(2), to which the noble Earl referred, the maximum is three years? Is that right?

Earl Howe: Yes, that is what I said. I believe I read out a wrong reference. It is Clause 69(6), which permits the extension to five years in six. In subsection (8) "relevant service" is defined as being within the six years immediately preceding the day on which a person's current service began. I believe that not only is there a limit but it is quite clearly set out.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I do accept that and I am grateful to my noble Earl for pointing me to the clause where it appears. If I may just extend the discussion a little, who are these people who leave the regular forces, become civilians and then are recalled? Have they engaged in any contract to do so? That presumably is the case.

Earl Howe: The people concerned are defined in Clause 66. As the noble Lord will recall, up to now they have been defined in terms of their pension eligibility. We have changed that under the Bill. As he will see, Clause 66 lists the categories of people who may be liable to recall under Part VII.

Lord Mottistone: I was liable for recall up to the age of 55, and beyond if I insisted.

Clause 72 agreed to.

Clause 73 agreed to.

Clause 74: [Exercise of functions by authorised officers]:

Lord Williams of Elvel moved Amendment No. 40:

Page 42, line 35, leave out from ("Council")

to end of line 37.

The noble Lord said: This is again a very simple amendment. The intention is to obtain clarification on how the Defence Council shall choose the particular officers. I should be grateful if the noble Earl could tell us a bit about that. I beg to move.

Earl Howe: The noble Lord, Lord Williams, has asked me to clarify the nature of the delegations set out

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in this part of the Bill. I am sure that he needs no convincing that delegation is essential to the efficient and effective working of the armed forces and this is reflected in the Bill. It is essential that the Secretary of State should be able to delegate some or all of the functions given to him by the Bill and desirable that he should be able to do so directly, without the necessity for him to go through the Defence Council in every instance. That would be time-consuming and it would not offer any additional safeguard. At the same time, the ability to delegate the relevant functions totally to the Defence Council confers a very valuable flexibility.

The normal procedures for such delegation are simple. They are that the officers authorised to exercise the relevant function are clearly described. They themselves would either be given written authorisation, or the fact that they were so authorised would be reflected in written instructions, or both. Such delegations of responsibility are commonplace throughout the armed forces and work well.

I hope that in the light of what I have said, the noble Lord will feel happy that this part of the Bill has been sufficiently explained.

Lord Mottistone: Would Mr. Winston Churchill, as he was when Minister of Defence in the last great conflict of the Second World War, have ever wanted to go through the War Office or the Admiralty before he appointed somebody? He caused a great deal of trouble by appointing people direct but, on the whole, he would never have put up with it. This is a very important inclusion to this Bill to make sure that we are not too hamstrung when we have decent leaders.

Lord Williams of Elvel: I am not sure that the noble Lord, Lord Mottistone, has quite grasped the point that I am trying to make.

I am grateful to the noble Earl. That is a useful expression of what the Government's intentions are in the matter and who can do what, and it is exactly what I wanted in moving this amendment. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause 74 agreed to.

Clauses 75 and 76 agreed to.

Clause 77 [Individual exemptions etc. from call out]:

On Question, Whether Clause 77 shall stand part of the Bill?

Lord Judd: I should like to say just a few brief words on Clause 77 and it may be for the convenience of the Committee if I speak also to Clause 78.

We need not detain the Committee for long. Simply put, these are two very major clauses dealing with individual exemptions. It seems that what this Bill is about is formalising the situation as it covers everybody, and in moving into the realm of individual exemptions all sorts of misgivings could perhaps unnecessarily arise as to what this is all about: what sort of arrangements will be made to enable certain individuals, and which individuals, to be freed from the obligations which fall upon others. It is a question of justice not only being

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done but being seen to be done. I am sure that even from those few words the noble Earl will understand the point that I am making and I look forward to his reassurance for the Committee.

Earl Howe: Clause 77 provides for regulations to be made permitting an individual or his employer to apply for the individual to be exempted from call-out or to have his liability to report deferred. If he has already been accepted into permanent service, the clause also provides for the individual to be released. The clause permits regulations to be made covering the call-out of individuals under Parts IV, V and VI of the Bill. Those liable to recall under Part VII are dealt with in Clause 78.

We recognise that an individual or his employer may find that call-out occurs at a particularly inconvenient time. The provision of regulations enabling reservists and employers to seek deferral or exemption from call-out has therefore been widely welcomed.

The noble Lord expressed misgivings about the type of situation that might be covered by regulations. I believe that there are likely to be a variety of reasons why an individual may seek deferral or exemption from call-out. For example, an employer might find that losing a key skilled employee at a particular time could have an adverse economic effect on the business; or a self-employed reservist might find that his or her absence from the business could result in serious damage to it. There might also be compassionate reasons for exemption or deferral, such as the serious illness of a close relative, the care of children or of an elderly parent, where no other arrangements can be made for their care. Each situation might give rise to exemption or deferral, as appropriate.

It is important to remember that the Bill requires (in Clause 80(5)) the Secretary of State to consult before making regulations under this clause. We regard such consultation as essential to the success of the regulations.

Lord Judd: May I just make the point to the noble Earl that, as much as in any other part of the Bill, it will be tremendously important here that the regulations are well understood and transparent because it is just the kind of minefield into which inadvertently public opinion can move: "Why was so and so granted an exemption when so and so was not?". "What was the pull that this particular employer had with the Minister or with the department as distinct from that employer?", and so on. The regulations must be very clear and very much above board so that everybody knows what their rights are and what the opportunities are; the kind of illustrations that are given will be very important.

I am sure that the noble Earl will have taken on board our anxieties on this score. In the expectation that he will work with the department in getting this right, I think we should let the matter rest.

Earl Howe: It is important, as I am sure the noble Lord will recognise, for the regulations to contain an element of discretion rather than they should attempt to lay down hard and fast rules for every case. If an

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individual is discontent with the way in which he or she has been treated, there is always a route to appeal through the tribunal.

Clause 77 agreed to.

Clauses 78 to 80 agreed to.

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