Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
from the Minister of State for Defence Procurement (6 September
I am writing to inform you that the Defence
Council is in the process of laying an Order by statutory instrument
that provides for the winding-up of the Eastern Wessex Reserve
Forces' and Cadets' Association and for the alteration of the
administrative areas of the existing Wessex and South East Associations.
A copy of this is enclosed.
The Order arises from the statutory requirements
of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 (RFA96) Part XI relating to alterations
of areas into which the UK has been divided for the purpose of
establishing Associations and the winding up of an Association.
Article 1 indicates the name by which the Order is to be
known and 1 October 2000 as the date it comes into force. Article
2 provides definitions, principally of the counties and non-metropolitan
districts and Islands encompassed by the areas for which the existing
Eastern Wessex, Wessex and South East Associations currently have
administrative responsibility. Article 3 provides for the
winding-up of the existing Eastern Wessex Association. Article
4 defines the counties and non-metropolitan districts to be
encompassed by the area for which the expanded Wessex Association
will have administrative responsibility. Article 5 defines
the counties and non-metropolitan districts and Channel Islands
to be encompassed by the area for which the expanded South East
Association will have administrative responsibility. Articles
6 and 7 are designed to effect transfers of property, rights
and liabilities from the existing Eastern Wessex Association to
the expanded Wessex or South East Associations, as appropriate.
The Order is required to underpin arrangements
that will be in place in readiness for the effective date, but
there is no question of retrospection to the legislation. The
Ministry of Defence is not a regulatory department, and the Order
does not impose costs on commerce or industry. A Regulatory Impact
Assessment is therefore not needed.
The background, as you are aware, is the Strategic
Defence Review recommendation of a reduction in the number of
Associations. As part of the implementation of that recommendation,
the future structure of the Associations was the subject of a
joint study involving the Associations themselves and the Ministry
of Defence (the MoD/TAVRA Interface Study). A recommendation of
the Study was that, to reflect the important links between the
civil and military communities that Associations provide, and
to accord with the "Modernising Government" initiative,
arrangements were to be set in hand to ensure that the areas of
responsibility of Associations in England and of the Government
Office (GO) regions are aligned. The arrangement has several advantages.
No change is required to the areas for which the majority of the
Associations are already established; arrangements in Scotland,
Wales and Northern Ireland are unchanged; and GO-related areas
also align with those of Army divisional areas and RAF regional
This new arrangement was announced by the Minister
for the Armed Forces in written answers to Parliamentary Questions
on 21 April 1999 and again on 12 May 1999,
and to the Committee with notification of the review of the TAVRA/RFCA
constitutions and also in response to your request for information
following the laying of the new RFCA Regulations.
The announcements envisaged an amalgamation of the South East
and Eastern Wessex Associations to form a new Association. However,
a merger is not envisaged by the legislation; legal effect can
only be given by the seeming expansion of one Association at the
expense of the other.
Both this Department and the Associations wish
to make clear that what is being effected is an amalgamation of
the responsibilities of two Associations, and quite definitely
is not a takeover of the one by the other. I am pleased to inform
you that, thanks to truly commendable efforts by the staff of
the Eastern Wessex and South East Associations, the "new"
South East Association will be established from 1 October 2000.
Indeed, the move to the new, more central headquarters in Aldershot
was completed by 1 September 2000, as planned.
Knowing only a slight change would be required
to match the Wessex Association area with that of the South West
GO region (to extend the boundary to encompass the county of Dorset),
Wessex Association has been acting as agent for Eastern Wessex's
Dorset responsibilities since 1 April 2000. The Order merely effects
the formal transfer of those responsibilities.
The Secretary and his staff are employed directly
by each Association. They are not MoD civil servants. Some 13
RFCA employees have opted for redundancy as a result of the rationalisation.
Seven left on 31 August, three will leave on 31 December 2000
and three on 30 April 2001. The general liability to make redundancy
payments that is imposed by the Employment Rights Act 1996 does
not apply to Associations as emanations of the Crown. However,
some Association employees have become redundant in circumstances
corresponding to those laid down in that Act and have therefore
been treated no less favourably than they would have been if the
liability imposed by that Act had applied to the Crown. The redundancy
terms are broadly in line with MoD Regulations and PCSPS arrangements.
(The benefits cannot be identical because the RFCA and civil service
pension arrangements differ). MoD has been advised there are no
Treasury policy objections to these arrangements. There are no
payments for diminution of income nor aggregated payments. In
view of the arrangements made by the Associations, regulations
under RFA96 section 118 have not been made.
The aim throughout was that all Association
staff should be kept fully informed of progress, and given full
acknowledgement for their service. The RFCA Staff's Trade Union
representatives were provided with a copy of the MoD/TAVRA Interface
Study Report in April 1999. Consultation began on 14 May 1999
and has continued throughout. There are 25 staff posts in the
"new" South East Association's secretariat. All employees
who transfer will do so on terms negotiated through the senior
national officer of the Public & Commercial Services Union.
Those staff will suffer no detriment. All Association employees
accepting redundancy have been or will be given six months' notice.
The Associations are very much aware of their
responsibilities to those staff and have provided support on resettlement
and, where requested, more practical help and training. To acknowledge
the tremendous debt they owe their staff, a formal farewell lunch
will be followed by letters of appreciation signed by the appropriate
Association's Chairman. All the Eastern Wessex Association's voluntary,
unpaid Members will migrate to become members of the Wessex Association
or the South East Association, depending on whether their linkage
is with Dorset or somewhere in the South East GO regional area.
We believe the Order is needed to give legal
effect to the restructuring of Associations and thus complete
the implementation of the recommendations arising from Strategic
Defence Review studies. Immediately following the Order coming
into force, the Reserve Forces' and Cadets' Associations Regulations
will be amended to reflect the changes. The changes are minor
(Regulation 1.4 and Annex A and its Appendix 1) and the replacement
pages, details of which will be placed in the libraries of both
Houses, are attached. From 1 October 2000 there will be revised
Schemes of Association for the South East RFCA and the Wessex
RFCA, and also consequential amendments to the Schemes for the
other seven Associations in England that include changes in the
descriptions of their areas of responsibility. Copies will be
provided shortly after that date.
Copies of this letter will be placed in the
library of each House.
2 Not printed. Back
Hansard 21 April 1999, Col WA566 and 12 May 1999 Col 510W. Back
D/Parliamentary/21/24 dated 13 April 2000. Back