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Baroness Buscombe: I thank the Minister for her response. In relation to the first group of amendments, the industry will be disappointed because it has, I understand, long argued with the Government that the arrangement is unfair on those who, through no fault of their own, do not happen to have, for example, a licence at the time. However, I understand and appreciate the Minister's arguments in response to the amendment. On that basis, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: This simple and uncontroversial amendment ensures that representatives of all those who are affected by the new licensing arrangements are properly consulted before the first licensing policy is prepared by each licensing authority.
As we have considered in relation to Clause 5, one of the first things that has to be done to get the new arrangements going is for the licensing authority to prepare a licensing policy. It needs to consult on that policy. When the first policy is prepared we will be in a transitional period and there will, as yet, be no licensees under the new arrangements. So the Bill needs to make it clear who for this transitional period needs to be consulted about the licensing policy from the point of view of licensees themselves.
The Bill as presented to the Chamber already provides for representatives of those who have justices' licences and of registered clubs to be consulted. However, it is clear that that is not sufficiently wide. It does not cover the other kinds of licensees who exist under the present arrangements: for theatres, cinemas, some public entertainment licensees, and late-night-refreshment licence holders. Those who are representative of those licensees should be consulted too and the amendment has that effect. Rather than listing them all again, the amendment provides that representatives of all relevant existing licence holders should be consulted. Amendment No. 466 therefore employs the definition of "existing licence holders", which is already in place in paragraph 1 of Schedule 8. I beg to move.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall now repeat a Statement made in another place by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence earlier today. The Statement was as follows:
"It may be helpful to remind the House of the preparations announced previously. On 25th November and 18th December, I described the measures we were taking to ensure that our forces were prepared and had the training, equipment and support they might need, as well as the consideration that we were giving to the potential requirement for reservists and additional maritime deployments.
"In a Statement on 7th January, I announced the making of an order enabling the call-out of reservists, and the deployment of maritime forces including 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines. I explained that it was likely that we would want to make further deployments in the coming weeks to be able to keep military options open, and that we were taking steps to ensure the readiness of units and equipment, and the availability of appropriate chartered shipping and air transport. In a Written Statement on 14th January, I described the details of continuing preparatory activity, involving the movement and deployment of enabling equipment, including tracked vehicles, exploratory visits and liaison with other military staffs in the region.
"When I made a Statement on 7th January, a number of honourable Members pressed me to say what other forces the Government intend to make available. In particular, I was invited to set out the nature of any land force that might be deployed. I explained at that time that I could not do so, for the simple reason that no decision had by then been taken.
"I am now in a position to be able to tell the House that we have reached a view on the composition and deployment of a land force package to provide military capabilities for potential operations against Iraq.
"This force will include Headquarters 1 (UK) Armoured Division with support from 7th Armoured Brigade, 16 Air Assault Brigade and 102 Logistics Brigade. Its equipment will include 120 Challenger 2 main battle tanks, 150 Warrior armoured personnel carriers, 32 AS90 self-propelled guns, 18 light guns and a number of reconnaissance and other vehicles. The total number of personnel involved in this land force will be approximately 26,000. In addition, we are already deploying 3 Commando Brigade with around 4,000 personnel, including their supporting elements.
"The House will not expect me to discuss the specific tasks that might be undertaken by our forces in the event of military operations. But this is a high-readiness, balanced and flexible force package, bringing together a wide range of capabilities. The Chiefs of Staff and I are confident that this is the right group of forces for the sort of tasks that may be necessary.
"The House will recognise that a force package of this size cannot be deployed without notice. As the written Statement on 14th January explained, to keep this option open, we have already started the movement and deployment of enabling assets, including logistics, engineering, signals and command vehicles and equipment. We will now begin to deploy the combat equipment and personnel of the formations comprising the land force package. This will involve significant movements from units in both the United Kingdom and Germany before their deployment by sea and air over the days and weeks ahead. Headquarters
"In the coming weeks, we will also need to call out additional reservists in support of these land forces. The details of our overall reservist requirement are continuing to evolve, and I expect to be able to provide further information on this in due course.
"None of the steps we are taking represents a commitment of British forces to military action. These are measures necessary to provide a range of options which we may require. A decision to employ force has not been taken, nor is such a decision imminent or inevitable. But I must also emphasise, as all Members of this House will recognise, that the deployment of forces on this scale is no ordinary measure.
"While we want Saddam Hussein to disarm voluntarily, it is evident that we will not achieve that unless we continue to present him with a clear and credible threat of force. That is why I have announced these deployments in support of the diplomatic process to which we remain fully committed. It is not too late for Saddam Hussein to recognise the will of the international community and respect United Nations resolutions. Let us all hope that he does so".
Lord Vivian: My Lords, I am most grateful to the Minister for the Statement that he has just made in connection with troop deployment to Iraq. On these Benches, we support Her Majesty's Government's position on the situation in Iraq. Your Lordships will no doubt be reminded that we have consistently backed a firm line against Saddam Hussein. I very much hope that the support of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition will be made known to the Armed Forces.
There are some further questions to be asked concerning this deployment. It would be most helpful if the noble Lord could provide a little more detail to some of the points that he covered and give your Lordships some further assurances on the matters that I shall now touch on.
I am aware that on 18th December in a Statement in another place the Secretary of State said that Her Majesty's Government would continue to take appropriate steps to ensure that British forces were ready and had the training, equipment and support that they needed.
First, will the Minister say how much armoured and infantry warfare training, including NBC training and fighting in built-up areas, has been carried out by the regiments and battalions? The requirement to have some 19,000 troops available for fire-fighting duties due to the firemen's strike has interfered with units' primary training, especially in 16 Air Assault Brigade. Is he satisfied that sufficient training has been completed, that there are sufficient reserve tanks to replace broken-down tanks and that the units are now
Secondly, who will provide the reserve for 7 Brigade? In addition, perhaps the noble Lord will say where the individual battle casualty reinforcements will come from and who will provide them. If they are to be reservists, can the noble Lord confirm that they will all have received refresher training to ensure that they are at the required battle standard? Recently there has been comment that employers will not retain jobs for reservists who have been called up. What action has been taken to ensure that employers will retain jobs for those who are required for emergency military action?
I now turn to matters concerning equipment. Can the Minister assure your Lordships that the Challenger 2 tanks have now been successfully desertised for operations in Iraq and that sufficient main engines, gearboxes, air filters and track will be available when required? Have the faults experienced from deployment of the AS90 on Exercise Saif Sareea now been rectified? On the subject of communications, what technical modifications, if any, have been made to the Clansman radio communications system and how many spare radio sets are in stock? Your Lordships will be aware of the introduction of the short-range personal radio for dismounted infantry sections, but that is of little use in armoured vehicles. Is it now Her Majesty's Government's decision to buy the USA IFF system and have it fitted to our armoured vehicles? Are there now sufficient stocks of desert clothing and reliable desert boots?
Can the noble Lord also inform your Lordships whether improvements have now been completed to ensure that helicopters will be able to fly the required number of hours under desert conditions? Will the Apache helicopter be deployed in support of the force?
Turning now to the subject of logistical sustainment, can the noble Lord confirm that there will be sufficient stocks of major assemblies, rations, spare radio sets and reserve ammunition over and above the planned daily expenditure rates?
I now turn to medical matters. Can the Minister go into further detail as to how battle casualties will be cared for? Can he confirm the number of advanced dressing stations, field hospitals and general hospitals that will be deployed with the British force? Will he also assure the House that those medical units will be at full strength with the correct number of surgeons who are experienced in gunshot wounds and burns, anaesthetists and combat medical technicians? Presumably there will be a requirement to evacuate casualties to the United Kingdom. Which hospitals, in addition to the Centre for Medical Excellence at Birmingham, will have beds reserved for battle casualties from Iraq?
Will the noble Lord expand a little more on some aspects of the chain of command? For example, who and which formation will have command and control over the British land forces, and will 1st Division command 3 Commando Brigade and 16 Air Assault
Finally, if conflict should break out, I am sure that all your Lordships would wish the troops being deployed all good fortune and a safe and speedy return and would hope that those with families bear this operational separation with their normal and customary fortitude.
Is the Minister satisfied that sufficient supplies are in place? I shall not go through the list raised by the noble Lord, Lord Vivian. I simply ask whether the Minister is satisfied that enough supplies are in place for the long period of time that the troops might be in the Gulf. Only last week the Prime Minister said that the international inspectors had spent only a week at their full complement undertaking weapons inspections. We on these Benches hope that he was sincere in his undertaking that they would be given as much time as was needed.
We are uneasy about the escalation that has taken place, as I believe are many people throughout the country. We understand the necessity for pressure to be put on Saddam Hussein to underline the responsibility he has for disarmament.
Under whose command will British forces be when they reach the Gulf? Will they be integrated into the US command and control or will they be under independent command? It will cause consternation if British forces are immediately integrated into the US command and control.
My final question harks back to the last Gulf War. Will troops be given proper counselling and guidance over the vaccinations and inoculations they are receiving at present? That is an issue to which we shall probably return. I hope that the Ministry of Defence undertakes proper guidance to troops this time round.
Lord Bach: I am grateful to both noble Lords for their support and kind words about the British Armed Forces, which I know will get back to them. This is a significant announcement, but it comes in the context of our ongoing military contingency planning, designed, as I repeated in the Statement, to maintain a credible threat of force in support of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441.
Both noble Lords asked a number of questions. The noble Lord, Lord Vivian, will forgive me if I do not even attempt to answer all the legitimate questions he raised. I shall do my best to answer some now; if others remain unanswered, I shall write to him in the normal way.
The first question raised related to whether sufficient training had been carried out and whether the Armed Forces needed for FRESCO somehow prevented that. I give the noble Lord the assurance I believe he seeks. We shall ensure that there is sufficient training for all those sent to the Gulf and for those who have to use the tanks to which he referred.
As regards employers, the noble Lord asked a question relating to reservists and the position in which they might find themselves when they return. I remind him of the terms of the Reserve Forces (Safeguard of Employment) Act 1985. Under that Act an employer is required, where it is reasonable and practicable to do so, to take into his or her employment former employees who made a written application at the end of a period of called-out service. If an employer terminates a person's employment without that person's consent and does so solely or mainly by reason of a liability to be mobilised for military service, that employer is guilty of an offence. I have checked, and that is not a civil wrong; it is an offence under criminal law. In such circumstances the reservist may apply to a reinstatement committee to hear the case.
As regards Challenger 2 and AS90, as the noble Lord knows work is being carried out now to ensure that they are desertised sufficiently. That work is ongoing and will continue when forces are in transit and in theatre as required. I give the noble Lord the assurance he seeks as regards clothing. In addition to our existing stocks, contracts are in place for the delivery at short order of 20,000 pairs of desert boots, 92,650 desert lightweight jackets and 89,700 pairs of desert lightweight trousers. We continue to work to ensure that our personnel are properly equipped to cope with the environmental conditions in which they may operate.
The noble Lord asked about the medical position. Again, I can give him the reassurance he seeks. I shall write to him in due course with more detail. To date the Defence Medical Services have met all the operational commitments placed on them. That was, we acknowledge, achieved with the compulsory mobilisation of a small number of reservists. There is no question of British forces deploying on military operations without appropriate medical support.
The noble Lord asked about command, as did the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale. Here, I have to choose my words carefully. I am sure that both noble Lords and the House will understand why. We do not think it appropriate at this stage to discuss command and control arrangements or, indeed, the individuals who may be involved. Headquarters staffs will liaise and exercise as appropriate with US staffs in the region and elsewhere. The next sentence is important to both noble Lords. We shall ensure that UK command and control is in place at the appropriate levels. I have no doubt that in the weeks to come I shall be able, I hope, to be more forthcoming with the House on those perfectly legitimate questions.
The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, asked about sustainability. I think that that was at the root of his first and major question. It is far too early to speculate about how long we might need to maintain this particular deployment or, indeed, when military action might become inevitable. We are deploying forces now because it is the right thing to do in support of the Security Council resolution and the weapons inspection process. We all hope that military action will not be necessary.
We consider this a balanced and flexible force which providesI make no apology for repeating thisa potent and credible threat to Saddam Hussein. We are confident that UK Armed Forces will be able to fulfil their mission of ensuring Iraqi disarmament, however long that may take. As regards vaccinations, I give the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, the assurance he seeks. Proper advice has been given to all those who are to be deployed to the Gulf.
Lord Burnham: My Lords, the noble Lord gave the House the figures for what is a considerable deployment of Her Majesty's forces. Can he give any figures with regard to the redeployment of other forces which will be necessary to cover the areas from which those who are going in the direction of the Middle East have gone?
Further, he failed to answer my noble friend's questions. That was entirely reasonable because my noble friend asked many questions. However, can he assure the House that we shall have an opportunity in the near future to debate all the questions raised today in a more relaxed atmosphere and over a longer period than has been possible? Perhaps I may follow-up the question asked by the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, concerning Gulf War diseases from previous conflicts. The noble Lord says that all is well. However, it would be helpful if he could give that answer more fully.
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