Examination of Witness (Questions 40 -
TUESDAY 11 JUNE 2002
40. So it is fairly small.
(Lt Colonel Spicer) It is very small.
41. As it is so small, why should it not be
possible to have a regulatory system whereby each soldier is individually
licensed and the licence makes it incumbent upon him and gives
you the authority to conform to regulations very similar to those
laid down in the Armed Forces Act, or is that impractical?
(Lt Colonel Spicer) It is not impossible. It would
produce a massive administrative burden both on the regulatory
authority and on the companies themselves.
42. If the obligation were on you to certify
that each soldier was indeed licensed along these lines, that
would transfer the responsibility to a large degree to you and
you would be accountable and answerable. Is this something you
would welcome? It would certainly ease many people's minds.
(Lt Colonel Spicer) If it did anything to ease people's
minds and make people feel more comfortable with the concept,
then of course private military companies would do it. I think
there is a problem here, because if the responsibility is mine
to ensure that anybody I employ has a licence, who grants the
licence? It is not for me to grant the licence. What I do at the
moment is vet them on experience, service record, word of mouth,
criminal record, all the other things one is able to do, but I
cannot give them a licence to operate. I cannot see how that responsibility
could be devolved directly to the commercial companies because
I can certainly check their MOT but what I cannot do is give it
to them. I could do under the current circumstances, but we are
not envisaging a situation with the detailed vetting and detailed
examination which has been discussed this morning, whereby I could
grant that licence. I could check the licence exists, but I do
not think I could grant it.
43. I should like the people who operate for
you to be bound by regulations which are as near as possible to
those which bind the members of the nation's armed forces.
(Lt Colonel Spicer) That would have to be a matter
for the way in which the parliamentary regulation or the national
regulation is formulated. I certainly would not object to it,
in fact it would make my life a lot easier. It might be administratively
44. How do you see the best future of the private
military companies: acting within national contexts, or as what
I would call contract fire fighters for the international community?
(Lt Colonel Spicer) A combination of both. There are
certain circumstances where there is a requirement for the firefighting
we have talked about, but in general terms and in commercial terms
the way ahead is to carry on doing the less controversial element
of this business, the less dangerous, the less fraught with concern
and we have heard today about some of the concerns. Nevertheless,
I do not believe that the world is going to become a safer place
and I think that there will continue to be a requirement for people
to act quickly and effectively, and I include in that cost effectively,
to stop people being killed or raped or maimed.
45. I do not think we would dissent from that
at all. Do you have what I would call a black list of regimes
for which in no circumstances, whatever the temptations and whatever
the rewards, you would not act?
(Lt Colonel Spicer) Yes, we do. We go further than
that. We keep very closely in touch with the legal requirements
and we superimpose on thatit may sound rather pompousour
own moral view of it as well, even though it is strictly legal.
Sir John Stanley
46. May I conclude with one last question on
your position on the regulatory system? Basically you have come
down in favour of the Government's option E, the general licensing
system. Previously you have also advocated that regulation might
be provided by monitors, which is not actually one of the options
which is specifically highlighted in the Green Paper. You have
raised the possibility that the monitoring might be carried out
by Defence Attachés. I should like to put it to you that
in my view, speaking personally, such regulation by Defence Attachés
could only be of a purely token nature, that the burden of responsibilities
falling on Attachés is such that the need for them to be
in close proximity to the national capital and to the government
buildings and staff and ministers in the countries in which they
are operating makes it really illusory to think that the Defence
Attachés could spend any material amount of time in and
around countries doing any genuine monitoring of private military
companies. How do you respond to that and is monitoring by Defence
Attachés still part of your proposal or not?
(Lt Colonel Spicer) Monitoring certainly is. The question
which has been raised in the past is fine, you have a registration
process and a regulatory process which is largely administrative
and a number of concerns have been raised about what happens on
the ground. The only way I can see that being dealt with to the
satisfaction of those who have the concern is to have some form
of monitoring linked to the registration or regulatory process.
On whether it is the job of Defence Attachés or not, I
have a completely open mind. It is one suggestion. The reason
I suggested itand I did not envisage them being in the
command post 24 hours a daywas if a private military company
were deployed in a country to which they are the Attaché,
or possibly the region, there might be a case for them certainly
to be aware in detail of what the contract was about, how it was
going to be carried out, and what constraints and parameters there
were within it. In other words, they have full disclosure of the
project, whereas the regulatory process, if it goes for a general
licence, may not require that, but it is one way of the licensing
government maintaining contact with what is going on. I appreciate
that Defence Attachés are quite busy and do need to be
near the seat of government. I do not see them being around all
the time and it may not be the best answer. It may not be the
best solution, but they do exist, they are on the ground, they
have links with government, they have military knowledge, so they
can understand what the purpose of the project is and they can
keep as closely or as loosely in touch with it as the situation
may demand and the other demands on their time allow.
Sir John Stanley: Thank you very much indeed
for coming in front of us this morning. Thank you very much for