Examination of Witnesses (Questions 420
WEDNESDAY 6 MARCH 2002
HOUGHTON, CBE AND
420. Are you involved in running the courses
and the content?
(Mr Davenport) Yes, we are.
421. Post foot-and-mouth and 11 September the
focus towards the military to help us in these emergencies seems
to be greater. That might just be a perception, but it does seem
we can rely upon the military. Are the courses going to be moulded
to change to the new environment that I perceive, or are they
just going to carry on as they did before?
(Mr Davenport) There is a distinct possibility that
the military or MOD involvement in the work of the college will
be strengthened. That has been the subject of a number of internal
discussions and seminars within government in the light of both
the fuel protests the year before last and particularly foot-and-mouth
last year. The details of that greater involvement remain to be
settled, but that is the way it is moving.
422. I take it from you that the Emergency Planning
College has established effective links with both the Joint Services
Command and the Staff College. There is a good relationship there
and a very close one.
(Mr Davenport) There is indeed.
423. That has cheered me up somewhat from the
(Mr Mann) As you may know, the Joint Services Command
and Staff College and a range of other colleges are moving into
the new Defence Academy. As part of the arrangements for picking
up the linkages of the sort we were discussing, we are thinking
of formally twinning the two organisations: the new Defence Academy
and the Emergency Planning College.
424. A few years ago there was a military/civil
exercise named Brave Millennium. Is there a successor to that?
Do you have any idea when it is going to be and what form it will
(Brigadier Houghton) Brave Millennium is the principal
Integrated Contingency Planning exercise conducted by what we
call the Chairman of UKCICC, the United Kingdom Commanders in
Chief Committee. The permanent chairman of that committee is the
Commander in Chief of Land Forces, currently General Sir Michael
Jackson, a well-known figure from television, Kosovo, foot-and-mouth
and those sorts of things. Some standing remits are placed on
that committee and a whole range of activities which are collectively
known as Integrated Contingency Planning, which broadly on one
hand are things relating to Military Home Defence, that is the
military home defence aspects of a conventional attack against
the United Kingdom. On the other hand, there is a broad range
of activities, which I introduced at the last oral session on
what we call MACA, Military Aid to the Civil Authority. The next
exercise Brave Millennium is a two-day study period with some
desktop planning exercises and scenario work. It is happening
in March, 19-20 March. The aim in that is very much to take the
focus off some of the old cold-war-type of responsibilities within
Integrated Contingency Planning and to ensure that the main focus
of that committee and its work, with all the agencies with which
it works, is more on the consequence management side of Military
Aid to the Civil Authority.
425. Could we turn to the question of reserve
forces? Can you tell us whether there are obstacles such as statutory
or indeed military regulations which currently prevent the reserves
from being used more widely in the homeland defence role? Are
(Mr Mann) No, I do not think so. We would need to
look at that a little more carefully than that rather straight
answer, in terms of the roles those reserve forces would be undertaking
and the way in which they would be asked to undertake their duty.
Would this be compulsory mobilisation, would this be voluntary
activity, reporting for duty and being placed at the disposal
of the civil authorities? In the work that we have done we have
found no legal impediment to using them in the ways in which we
are thinking of doing.
(Brigadier Houghton) There is no statutory impediment
to the employment of reservists, TA particularly, on this, but
as a matter of current policy, Territorial Army and reservists
are not employed on what we call MACP tasks, that is military
aid to the civil power. Also there are some aspects of MAGD, that
is Military Aid to other Government Departments, on which, again
by policy, we do not employ them. We are very happy to use the
TA on something such as foot-and-mouth and assisting the civil
authority with managing that sort of crisis. On those things which
are to do with the maintenance of essential services, such as
fire service, ambulance service, as a matter of policy we would
not involve the Territorial Army or have not done because of the
potential allegations of strike breaking and the invidious position
this could leave some members of the TA in.
426. In a situation we have at the moment, the
Ministry of Defence is concerned that by assigning our reserve
forces to assisting in present circumstances there might be accusations
of taking away the jobs of people engaged in other public services?
(Brigadier Houghton) Correct. As a matter of policy,
we have not employed them when there is an industrial problem.
427. If there is a strike.
(Brigadier Houghton) Correct, an industrial problem.
428. You were suggesting that there were already
plans for the reservist to be called upon for additional roles.
Can you expand upon that?
(Mr Mann) Certainly. Plans would be too strong a word.
There is a number of ideas on which we propose shortly to go to
consultation with the reserves, employers and so on. If perhaps
I were to break them down into three categories and outline those
categories, I should be happy to go into more detail if that would
429. Yes, please.
(Mr Mann) The first category is something which has
the rather unsexy title currently of Voluntary Planned Service,
which we mentioned at the last oral evidence session here, where
we would ask reservists to come forward to undertake a range of
duties in support of the civil authorities. This would not be
compulsory mobilisation. We would not expect every last man or
woman to come forward but we believe that the ethos of the reserve
forces is such that we could expect a reasonable turnout, even
if it could only be for a reasonably short duration, given that
these people will have other employment. There is a number of
roles they could undertake, in that, most likely in consequence
management tasks but there are other potential roles which they
could fulfill. The second category is mobilisation within their
current roles. If we take, let us say, an engineer unit, we might
mobilise it as an engineer unit and ask it to do engineering chores.
The third category is really a group of other slightly smaller
tasks, subsidiary roles, where the reserve forces and their facilities
might be of value, first of all in terms of augmenting whatever
crisis management machinery is put in place. These people do have
skills, including organisational ones.
430. Like in foot-and-mouth?
(Mr Mann) Not in those specific cases; those were
the regular forces. It is the same analogy in these circumstances.
Secondly, it may just be that they have facilities, for instance
accommodation or their infrastructure, which is of value in its
own right, which we ought to be able to draw on, if that is useful
for the civil authorities.
431. The Secretary of State said in an interview
at the beginning of last month that we have to protect key installations
in the UK, we have to develop a force that could do that over
and above the people who are in the regular armed forces because
clearly we cannot spare highly trained professional people for
these sorts of tasks. Is the Ministry of Defence unwilling to
use reserve forces, for example to protect sensitive sites, maybe
somewhere like Aldermaston or maybe some of the radar stations
or assist emergency services in dealing with major incidents?
(Mr Mann) We need to draw two or three distinctions
here. First of all, we need to draw a distinction between peacetime
security and whatever we do in response to a home defence crisis,
an explicit threat warning or worse. The second is that we need
to fit the reserve forces contribution within the envelope of
the total contribution to the defence of those sites that might
be provided by first of all the civil police, secondly by our
own Ministry of Defence police and other forces. I do not therefore
really want to give you a quick and glib answer but within that
we are by no means ruling out in response to a particular home
defence crisis the use of the reserve forces in guarding tasks,
but it would be part of a much broader package which we would
have to consider in the light of the circumstances of the time,
including the Ministry of Defence police, the civil police and
432. Forgive me, but these are slightly fuzzy
answers. The nation faces a pretty serious threat at the moment.
What we are trying to do is to examine here just what the response
of the Government is to this set of circumstances in the light
of 11 September. The question we are really looking at is whether
you are prepared to use reserve forces to supplement the activities
of the Ministry of Defence police and Ministry of Defence Guard
Service. Do you not think that is necessary? What is the kind
of thinking about the possible deployment of the reserve forces,
given that the Secretary of State has said we have to develop
(Mr Mann) I wanted to be very clear about the context,
this is not a peacetime context.
433. It is in the context of this inquiry and
what is going on at the moment. We are not talking about an academic
(Mr Mann) In that context certainly that is one of
the potential roles for the reserve forces on which we plan to
434. How long do you expect that to take for
(Mr Mann) The consultation?
(Mr Mann) We expect to do that very shortly. We have
not defined how long we will give.
436. Is that before or after you complete the
report you are working on at the present time?
(Mr Mann) Oh, no, that is before we complete the report.
In other words, we will come forward with ideas and proposals
on which, especially for the reserve forces, we have consulted
the reserve forces and indeed their employers.
437. What is their view?
(Mr Mann) We do not have that in a systematic fashion
at the moment. We have a range of views, indeed at a seminar last
week we heard a range of views expressed. There are some who believe
that this is a useful role that the reserve forces should be playing.
There are some who do not, to be perfectly honest. There are some
who do not believe this is why people join the reserves. That
is a very small range of views that we have taken. What we need
to do through the formal consultation process is to get that in
a much more systematic fashion.
438. I am interested in where you are going
to go for this further consultation, with whom? If you are now
suggesting that some of the reserve forces currently have expressed
views which say this is not their role, then you would come up
with an idea that it is their role finally, then you are going
to need more of them, so you have to look at how you would recruit
more of them and how you would deploy them within the current
reserve forces and how they would operate, do you not? What is
your thinking on how that could be achieved? Could you recruit
them? Could you integrate them? Could you get co-operation between
the new recruits who would be recruited for a specialist task
presumably with the existing reserve forces?
(Mr Mann) May I just clear one point out of the way
and then answer your question in two heads? The point is that
we are not currently proposing that this be a dedicated force,
a dedicated guard force. This would be an additional role for
the reserve forces and therefore I am not sure the issue of integration
in that sense would arise. It is not like the reserve forces we
used to have, the home service force and so on. It is not like
that. This is part of the current activity of reserve forces.
439. Except you would not be wanting to recruit
engineers and drivers if they were going to be used extensively
for the expanded forces for guarding buildings, would you?
(Mr Mann) No; absolutely not.