Clause 9 - Reserve forces: flexibility of commitments

Armed Forces Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 25th March 2021.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of James Sunderland James Sunderland Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill, Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill

With this it will be convenient to consider that schedule 2 be the Second schedule to the Bill.

Photo of Johnny Mercer Johnny Mercer Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (jointly with the Ministry of Defence)

Clause 9 amends sections 24 and 25 of the Reserve Forces Act 1996 to replace the existing full-time service commitment, which enables members of a reserve force to volunteer to undertake a period of full-time service, with a new continuous service commitment. The amendment will also clarify the basis on which a reservist can perform additional duties.

The new continuous service commitment will in future enable members of a reserve force to volunteer to undertake a period of full-time service or part-time service, or a combination of both, under one commitment, allowing for the first time seamless movement between full and part-time service. These important modernising steps will help to attract and retain people who have the key skills that Defence needs and who want to serve in a way that better suits their personal circumstances. The measures will also allow Defence greater freedom in how it generates military capability, by utilising reservists in a more effective and agile way.

Failure to implement these measures and increase the utility of reservists would be a counterproductive step. It would risk sending a message that Defence does not wish to achieve its goal of a whole-force approach, and that it is not listening to the people who serve our nation so well. It would restrict Defence’s ability to improve the offer to reserve personnel in tandem with the offer to regular personnel. It would delay the introduction of important modernising changes that will bring benefits both for reservists and their families and for Defence.

Photo of Richard Holden Richard Holden Conservative, North West Durham

I support exactly what the Minister has said. After spending time in the MoD as a special adviser myself, I know that it is vital that we do everything possible to ensure that our reserve forces are part of the whole force approach. This clause is in that category, so I support it.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 9 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.