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Volume 454: debated on Monday 11 December 2006

The reserve forces have three primary roles: to augment the regular forces for enduring operations, to provide additional capability for large-scale operations, and to provide specialist capability. Given that the voluntary reserve forces are based at nearly 400 locations throughout the UK, they are ideally placed to fulfil two other important roles: to provide a civil contingency reaction capability for crises in the UK and to maintain links between the military and civilian communities.

Does my hon. Friend not also think that reserve forces, because of their greater age and maturity, and better reflection of the diversity of the population, are often better equipped to deal with civilian populations? Will he pay special tribute to the London Regiment, which is based in my constituency and has had two companies in Basra, to great effect?

I pay tribute to the reserves, including those based in London, for the tremendous job that they do in working with and supporting our regular forces. They do an important job, and as my hon. Friend said, they bring additional skills and qualities, good use of which is made in operational theatre. Their experience will be built on, thus bringing even more quality and success to our operations in future.