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Departmental Lawyers

Volume 450: debated on Wednesday 11 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the job descriptions are of lawyers employed in his Department; what those descriptions were in 1997; what the cost was of lawyers employed in his Department in each of the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement. (90948)

[holding answer 13 September 2006]: The work of civilian lawyers employed in the Ministry of Defence is to provide legal support and services to the Department across the range of its activities and business. The particular requirements of the Department for legal advice are necessarily dependent on the circumstances prevailing at any one time. The summary description of the current work of the various teams of lawyers based in the UK reflects the main areas of law on which advice is required, and is as follows:

Legislation

This team's primary responsibility is the production of, and advice on, the primary and secondary legislation governing the armed forces, apart from legislation on pay, pensions and other terms of service.

Operational and International Humanitarian Law

Provides advice within the Department on operational law issues including advice in relation to the legal basis for use of force, international humanitarian law, and associated domestic and international legal issues.

Personnel and Pensions Law

Advises on personnel employment questions (including personnel vetting), terms and conditions of service, redundancy questions, discrimination law and human rights issues affecting the Services and MOD civilian staff respectively. The team also advises on War Pensions, the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme and Service and civilian pension issues.

General Law

Advises on information rights (including data protection, freedom of information, environmental information and matters relating to the law of privacy and confidence), Defence Estates, and other areas of law not covered by the other teams.

Commercial Law

Advises on a range of commercial matters including private finance initiative and public private partnership projects, the application of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations, EU law questions, international contracting issues, commercial information rights, and general commercial law questions.

In addition to the UK lawyers there are two teams based overseas in Germany and Cyprus.

The team based in Germany provides legal advice to UK forces and their civilian component on all aspects of living in and operating in and from Germany. This includes advice on the application of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, its Supplementary Agreement relating to Germany, and other international and bilateral arrangements.

The Attorney General and Legal Adviser team based in the Sovereign Base Areas (SBA), Cyprus, provides legal advice to the SBA Administration. He has independent control of prosecutions before the SBA Court. He and his team draft legislation and provide advice to meet the needs of the SBA Administration, including the provision of advice on the Treaty of Establishment, on legal aspects of policy development.

The salary costs of civilian lawyers employed in the Department in each of the last 10 years is as follows:

£ million

1997-98

1.27

1998-99

1.31

1999-00

1.48

2000-01

1.53

2001-02

1.92

2002-03

2.52

2003-04

2.94

2004-05

1

2005-06

3.29

2006-07

21.52

1 As a result of changes in accounting procedures and the transfer of the Department's lawyers from the Treasury Solicitor into the MOD during the course of 2004-05 an accurate figure for this year is not available.

2 Figures cover the period 1 April 2006 to 31 August 2006.