Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 199)



  180. So they are saying, "We are doing the same sort of thing"?
  (Ms Craig) Yes.

  181. Perhaps you would let us know how many of them are employed?
  (Ms Craig) Yes.

  182. Thirdly, organisations like Royal Ordnance have been trying to get rid of the MoD Police for a long time. It looks as though Royal Ordnance is about to get rid of itself. What is the current status of MoD Police and (a) Royal Ordnance and (b) what I am still inclined to call DERA, not having conceded yet that Qinetiq will ever get off the ground. I am sure they will try to get shot of you because they would much prefer to pay security guards £4.50 an hour than have MoD Police guarding essential national intellectual property and assets.
  (Ms Craig) At Royal Ordnance the MDP have now left, with the sole exception of Nottingham where the pattern room has been transferring. The last person leaves tomorrow I think.
  (Mr Clarke) Yes, tomorrow.
  (Ms Craig) So by tomorrow all MDP will have left all Royal Ordnance sites.

  Chairman: Which is the Ordnance site which deals with nuclear weapons components?

  Mr Hancock: None of them do.


  183. None now, right. And Qinetiq?
  (Ms Craig) There have been consultations taking place about the future guarding arrangements which I think are just about to conclude. The position there is that the proposal is to remove MDP from three of the four sites. There are discussions taking place with the local chief constables and with the Health and Safety Executive to draw up a security plan for the arrangements there once they have gone.

Mr Howarth

  184. What happens where you have a co-location of the residual organisation, DSTL, which will remain government-owned, and Qinetiq? Will the MDP still be responsible for DSTL?
  (Ms Craig) No, we are not responsible generally speaking for any commercial sites.

  185. DSTL is not commercial.
  (Ms Craig) Sorry, for DSTL we will still be responsible.

  186. So MDP will maintain a presence at the DSTL site?
  (Ms Craig) If that is required by the customer, according to the rules we lay down.

  187. Then you will have, for example at Farnborough, in my own constituency, the headquarters of Qinetiq right next door to the existing DSTL business, and there will be a lot of interplay between the two sites, but there will be a fence down the middle and on one side there will MDP people and on the other side Lord knows who. Yes?
  (Ms Craig) I believe so. I do not know the details.

  Chairman: Could you find out please and let us know?

Mr Hancock

  188. It is the same for us at Portsdown West as well.
  (Mr Cochrane) I cannot come back specifically on Farnborough but, for example, at Boscombe Down, which is essentially a Qinetiq site and therefore a List X company security responsibility, MDP will be retained there for protection of life of service people accommodated on that site. Going back to the earlier point and the question of arming, armed guarding is essentially, apart from nuclear security, employed for the protection of life and principally at places where there are identified numbers of service personnel in particular. The options for doing that are either MDP or service personnel including MPGS. People are suggesting that a soft option would be to go for service personnel rather than MDP because of the relative cost, but the reality is that even if in capitation terms it might be attractive there is not an excess supply of trained service personnel sitting on their beds waiting to be employed in guarding duties. There is great pressure on service manpower.


  189. So you would not want servicemen in excess numbers doing watchmen or guarding roles?
  (Mr Cochrane) No, and we would not employ servicemen in situations where the establishment concerned was not a military establishment, generally speaking.

  190. Will these new arrangements of MoD Police being withdrawn from Qinetiq begin when they are finally floated, or whatever the process is, or will it begin whilst they still formally remain within the ownership of the Ministry of Defence?
  (Mr Clarke) The exact position, Chairman, is that there has been a period of consultation and that consultation has now concluded. We await the final decision and then, and this is how it has happened in the past, there is a six months period of notice given when it is my responsibility to manage the withdrawal of MDP. The intention, as you are aware, is that that will happen at three of the sites but not at the Boscombe Down site.

Mr Howarth

  191. But that does not answer the Chairman's question, whether it happens before flotation or only upon flotation because there is some doubt as to whether it will be completed.
  (Mr Clarke) I cannot answer that specifically and I will have to check that myself.
  (Ms Craig) It is not linked to flotation.

  Mr Howarth: That is significant because Qinetiq will remain owned by the state until such time as it is floated. What you are suggesting is that there will be a wholly new guarding regime of this state organisation.

  Mr Hancock: We have already done it in some places. It is already changed.

  Chairman: We will come back to this in private session.

Mr Jones

  192. I do find what you are saying very strange. Guarding is changing at three of the four sites, but what has changed from yesterday to today to make that change? Who has the final say in that? If we have a private company which acquires the company, what happens if from your point of view you think we need MDP to guard this but they say, "No, we don't"? Can you over-rule them? Can you insist they have them? Here is a site that needs MDP one day but just because of a change of structure suddenly the next day does not need them. Has the risk changed? Are they doing different things on those sites?
  (Mr Cochrane) I think there is a misunderstanding. When we talk about these three former DERA sites, as they were, there was no requirement by our own Defence Security Manual for these to be arm-guarded.

  193. Did they have armed guards?
  (Mr Cochrane) Yes, they did, but in terms of the laid down requirement, the laid down requirement for armed-guarding applies most generally when there are service people accommodated permanently on the site or when a site is worked 24 hours a day by service people. The armed-guarding is there to protect their lives against terrorist threat. In the case of these places, because they were MoD sites, there was a requirement for a policing task, the only option for employing people to carry out that task was the MDP. There was also a requirement to provide an armed response capability in the event of some attempted attack.

  194. What then has changed?
  (Ms Craig) What has changed is they are now a commercial site.
  (Mr Cochrane) There was not a requirement—

  195. I accept it is now a commercial site, but it does not do anything different from what they were doing, does it?
  (Mr Cochrane) The situation was, because it was an MoD site, there were MDP deployed there primarily for policing reasons. Because they were MDP they were capable of being armed, so they were also able to provide an armed response in the event of an incident. What was required by our own Manual was an armed response, not a permanent armed guard.

  196. So the conclusion to draw from that then, is that for many years we have been-over-protecting these sites, have we?
  (Mr Cochrane) No, because the MDP were needed to be employed there for policing reasons and they had the capability of being armed so it made sense.

Mr Hancock

  197. But that reason is still there.
  (Ms Craig) Yes, but they are now being replaced by guards, the commercial guard force that the company—

Mr Jones

  198. I do not accept this. It is absolute rubbish.
  (Ms Craig)—and by the local police.

  Chairman: I think we will come on to this in the private session. I apologise to the people who have to leave early but we are now going into private session. Mr Howarth will start us off in this private session.

Mr Howarth

  199. If we could start with the aftermath of 11 September, how have you determined which MoD sites need the greatest security measures? Are the priorities for those sites determined centrally or by each individual service or different commands within those services?
  (Ms Craig) The detailed implementation of security measures rests with the TLB holders, that is clear, but they are guided by standards which we lay down centrally in the Defence Security Manual. Much of that guidance is advisory but there are some areas where minimum standards are laid down which everybody has to follow. One of those areas is the nuclear area. Another one is national policy which is set by the Cabinet Office. Another area is guarding. With guarding, as John was explaining, for the non-nuclear establishments we categorise the establishments centrally and the highest priority we give is to sites which have identifiable service personnel living and working permanently.

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