asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the role and authority of the Armed Forces in situations in which they may be called on to give support to civilian authorities.
The Armed Forces may be called upon in an emergency to assist the civil authorities in keeping the peace, securing the essentials of life or in coping with natural disasters. Except where legislation confers specific authority on Service men—as, for example, the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978—those undertaking this role have no more authority than any other citizen.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement explaining the extent to which training is given to military personnel in connection with their being called on to give support to civil authorities; and to what degree political control is exercised over the content of such training courses.
In most cases, the training given to fit Service men for their normal military duties is sufficient to enable them to assist the civil authorities when called upon to do so in an emergency. Once Ministers have authorised the use of Service men in a specific emergency then they may also approve the provision of further training if it is felt it would help those concerned to carry out more effectively the particular duties they are required to perform.