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Industrial Disputes (Essential Services)

Volume 978: debated on Thursday 14 February 1980

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set out in the Official Reportthe legislative authority, including regulations, for the use of military personnel in industrial disputes, indicating any authority which allows military commanders to order action without the consent of the civil power.

Legislative authority for the use of military personnel in maintaining essential services is contained in the Emergency Powers Acts of 1920 and 1964. Regulation 6 of the Defence (Armed Forces) Regulations 1939, which was made permanent by the Emergency Powers Act 1964, provides that the Defence Council may authorise officers and men of Her Majesty's military forces to be temporarily employed upon urgent work of national importance. Part II of Section V of the Manual of Military Law (9th Edition) (paragraphs 27 and 28) and Queen's Regulations for the Army J.11.04 restate the position. The Defence Council would not authorise such employment unless it was so requested by the civil authority, and unit commanders could not order their men to undertake such employment in the absence of an order by the Defence Council. Regulations made under the Emergency Powers Act 1920 can also authorise the use of military personnel for the maintenance of essential services.