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Lord Judd: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister, as ever, for his courteous and full reply. Might I just say, in the best possible spirit, that he is rather over-egging it if he says that there is a consensus on the need for the pilot projects. There is a consensus that the pilot projects are going to take place. I am not at all sure that anyone on this side of the House would have begun to go down this road at all. The Minister must not make an assumption, much as I dislike having to deny him any joy from having built bridges across the Floor of the House.

I noted the Minister's remark about the practicality of our amendments. As I said in Committee, I am not one to die in a ditch on wording. I believe that the whole point of having a discussion of this kind is to listen reasonably to each other and, if I take the point that the Minister makes, I am prepared to look at how we might put forward an amendment to make our point in a more reasonable way that meets his own observations. That is something that we want to take seriously.

As I am sure the Minister will realise, our concern is simply that if the "pilot projects" genuinely are pilot projects and are to be evaluated, it is essential that this House and the other place should have an opportunity to carry out that evaluation before deciding to go down this road. With all due candour--the polite way, I believe, of putting it these days--it will not wash to say that it is frustrating for those who want to do it. We are talking about the responsibility of Parliament, and we must have sounder and more full information on which to base our decisions.

I noted some of the Minister's remarks. He is always very open with us, and we appreciate that. I am sure, therefore, that he will take the point when I try to emphasise some of the doubts that he has raised tonight. He said, for example, in relation to pensions that "work is continuing." I should have thought that if one was entering into a pilot project on a scheme, pensions and what was to be done about them would have been fully tied up and would be known before the project started.

Earl Howe: My Lords, perhaps I may assist the noble Lord. I apologise if I did not make that clear. MLSE soldiers will also benefit from the Armed Forces pension scheme which, as the noble Lord knows, is non-contributory; but work is continuing on how precisely that will be implemented.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I am sure it is very reassuring to know that they will benefit. But how long is a piece of string? The Minister has given no indication whatever as to how they will benefit. That must underline anxieties about how much detailed thinking and proper forecasting took place as to the basis for a sensible pilot project.

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The Minister also referred to the fact that the reserve liability of civilians recruited for the MPGS has yet to be decided. That again rather emphasises the uncertainties that surround the whole scheme.

I do not wish to detain the House at this time of night. However, another major issue is that, in reference to Chilwell, the MPGS will be brought in on a one-for-one basis. If the Minister accepts, as he appears to, that Ministry of Defence Police seldom do guarding duties exclusively, we need to know what is the formula by which it is decided what is one-for-one. How many part-times does it take to make a one of Ministry of Defence police? We need to see the detail to be certain.

I hope the Minister will forgive my remaining unconvinced, but for all those reasons we still are unconvinced. However, We are fair minded people. We shall go away and look very carefully at what he said tonight. But I must say that the more he discusses this issue with us, the more worried, frankly, we become about what seems to be a rather half-baked initiative. It is quite probable that we shall want to return to this matter at Third Reading. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Lord Redesdale moved Amendment No. 2:

Leave out Clause 2.

The noble Lord said: My Lords, it is not my intention to push for Clause 2 to be deleted. My reason for tabling this amendment is to put forward the case that we are dealing with primary legislation. I understand that the Minister has found himself in a Catch-22 situation and without primary legislation he cannot initiate a pilot project. Nevertheless, we find ourselves in the Catch-22 situation that, without a pilot project, we cannot really understand what we are dealing with. I therefore wish to put the case that, although this is the right Bill in which to bring this measure forward, if it could have been introduced in a different way it would have been more helpful. I am not sure whether that would have been possible.

One issue concerns me. We have to look far ahead into the future because we have not had the results yet and a number of issues are still unresolved. What will happen to those bases if the pilot projects--so much money being involved--turn out not to be the success that the Minister and other Members of the House would wish. As the Minister said previously, members of the new force will simply not have their contracts renewed. Does that then mean that the Ministry of Defence police will be reinstated in their former positions? Exactly what will happen? Will primary legislation be required? Or will it simply be a case of, "Right, it hasn't been a success. Thank you very much. You can now go home?" How does the Minister see events taking place? That is the purpose of putting forward this amendment. I beg to move.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, referred to the "Catch-22 situation" that the Minister was in. I am not sure that that is

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completely correct. As I understand it, the Minister could have abused the Reserve Forces Bill by calling the MPGS volunteer reserves carrying out an additional voluntary duties commitment. I think we would have been rather disappointed had he done so. Some credit should go to the Minister for taking the primary legislation route.

Earl Howe: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lords who spoke and in particular to the noble Earl, Lord Attlee, for the remark he has just made. If one reflects on the role of the Territorial Army, it is undoubtedly the case that the TA is there to deploy as formed units to augment the regular Army in times of crisis and to bring the regular Army up to full strength for deployment. So to use the Territorial Army for guarding would very much detract from that. I do not believe that is a route we should go down. I do not believe it would be attractive to members of the TA, nor do I think it would be appropriate for other reasons.

I am disappointed, of course, that noble Lords opposite have yet to be convinced that the Government's proposals are worth pursuing. I am indeed disappointed that they have reservations about the pilot scheme because useful lessons will be learnt from that scheme. It is a genuine attempt to find out whether this will work. That is why we propose that it should be employed on a limited basis and why we want to take our time in looking at it. I acknowledge nevertheless that this is new ground and the noble Lord, Lord Judd, would not be doing his job if he did not express some hesitation about something as novel as this. But we have given it a good deal of thought. The planning is at an advanced stage and I do not have any worries that loose ends will not be tied up once we embark upon the pilot scheme.

What Clause 2 essentially does is to give the Armed Forces the flexibility to recruit this new category of personnel in a specified locality rather than worldwide. That flexibility in itself is worth having. It is worth including it in primary legislation. It is an appropriate place for it to be. So for those broad reasons alone I urge noble Lords opposite to give the clause a welcome in general terms even if they cannot enthuse about the guarding proposal.

8.30 p.m.

Lord Judd: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for giving way but would he not agree that in his last words he underlined one of the strategic--if I can use that word--anxieties about this whole initiative.

He openly said that it gives the Government and the armed services greater flexibility to recruit those people. That is exactly what the anxiety is. This is not primarily about guarding establishments at all; this is about getting by the back door a cheap kind of "Dad's Army" which will be available to assist in a whole range of activities at a later stage.

Earl Howe: My Lords, that really is not fair, with all respect to the noble Lord. The services will only consider introducing local service where it makes sense to them to do so but it would be odd to have no statutory provision allowing them to do so. As it happens, there

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are no plans or proposals for the general introduction of local service schemes other than for guarding. Indeed, more than that, it is difficult to see where there is much scope for introducing local service simply because there is a requirement to be able to call on the bulk of men and women in the Armed Forces to serve wherever in th world they may be required.

The reasons for considering the use of local service personnel could vary according to the circumstances of the case, as could the specific conditions applying to any particular local service scheme. But, as I have already mentioned, your Lordships can take comfort from the fact that the services are most unlikely to promote the introduction of local service in any particular case unless it makes sense to them in operational, management and financial terms.

The noble Lord, Lord Redesdale, asked me again what would happen if the pilot scheme were to fail. I do not believe that I can usefully add anything to the comments I made in Committee. Quite clearly we would have to go back to the drawing board. We do not expect the scheme to fail. We believe that we have done our planning properly and that it is a sensible pilot scheme. But clearly the Ministry of Defence police would still be there to assist us and I have no doubt would be ready and willing to do so if that proved to be a cost-effective option in all the circumstances.

I say to the House that the powers under Clause 2 will be used sensibly and selectively. Our assessment is that there is little scope for local service in any Armed Forces which have the range of commitments of the British services. But to deny ourselves the option to recruit on a local service basis, even in a limited way, would be improvident.

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