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Bermuda Regiment

Volume 448: debated on Wednesday 28 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many persons conscripted to the Bermuda Regiment have (a) declined to serve, (b) gone absent without leave for more than one month and (c) been (i) charged with and (ii) convicted of (A) desertion, (B) being absent without leave and (C) similar offences; what sentences were imposed in each case; and if she will make a statement. (79264)

Neither my Department nor the Ministry of Defence hold the information requested. Officials from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office have contacted the Bermuda Regiment directly and the Regiment has provided the following information.

For 2006, of the 541 men called up for service in the Bermuda Regiment two were registered as Conscientious Objectors, seven were exempted as ‘ministers of a religious denomination’, 14 were conditionally deferred to serve in the St. John's Ambulance Brigade, and 94 did not report for medical examination, nor explain their absence in advance. Of these 94 men, 51 are believed to reside in Bermuda, while the whereabouts of the remaining 43 is unknown.

The Bermuda Regiment is a part-time regiment, and the maximum accumulated time put in by any member of the regiment is equivalent, at its maximum, to thirty days in one year. The regiment considers that a man who has been absent without leave for more than three consecutive scheduled or ordered appearances is a long term absentee (LTA). At the time of this parliamentary question the Bermuda Regiment has on its books a total of 65 LTAs.

On the question of desertion the Bermuda Defence Act 1965 makes no provision for such a charge.

Under the Defence Act every soldier who fails to perform military duties is charged internally with unauthorised absence. So far in 2006, 21 such cases have been heard, and all have been found guilty. The commanding officer handed out the following sentences: extra duties (three); monetary fines (four); and re-start the military year (11). The remaining three cases have been referred to the magistrates court, for which there is provision in the Defence Act, where they remain outstanding.