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Armed Forces: Advisory Services

Volume 462: debated on Wednesday 4 July 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he has taken to provide independent advisory panels to oversee welfare provision for trainee soldiers; at which barracks panels have been created; what guidance he has given on (a) the terms of reference for and (b) recruitment of lay persons to serve on such bodies; how the composition of panels is monitored; and what steps he has taken to involve parents of service personnel in an oversight role. (146185)

Independent advisory panels (IAP) have been established across the Army Recruiting and Training Division (ARTD)'s Phase 1 (Initial Training) and Phase 2 (Special-to-Arm Training) units since 18 January 2006.

IAPs exist in the following ARTD sites:

Phase 1 Training sites

Phase 21

Army Foundation College (Harrogate)

Armoured Centre (Bovington)

Army Training Regiment (Bassingbourn)

Royal School of Military Engineering (Chatham and Minley)

Army Training Regiment (Lichfield)

Royal School of Artillery (Larkhill)

Army Training Regiment (Pirbright)

School of Infantry (Catterick)

Army Training Regiment (Winchester)

School of Army Aviation (Middle Wallop)

1 Including phase 1 and 2 combined sites

The Defence College of Logistics and Personnel Administration, and the ARTD Staff Leadership School are planning to have IAPs in place during 2007-08.

The terms of reference for IAPs, developed in October 2005, include guidance on recruiting and are as follows:

1. Introduction

As part of the process of implementing the recommendations of the DHALI reports, the Adjutant General has directed Director General Army Recruiting and Training to establish IAPs across the Army's training establishments at either school or regiment level but not both.

2. Aim

The aim of IAPs is to provide an independent, non-statutory source of advice, challenge, encouragement and support to the training establishment in order to exchange information, provide feedback and assist in identifying possible areas for improvement.

3. Roles

IAPs have the following roles:

a. To act as a conduit for external communication for the training establishment to de-mystify the Army's individual training organisation and promote the Army's and training establishment's reputations locally.

b. To act as a source of local feedback on local issues.

c. To act as a “sounding board”. They will support and challenge the training establishment by providing advice and encouragement on particular issues (both local and national) raised by the Commandant on an as required basis.

4. Limitations.

The IAP will not override the fundamental Army principle of self-regulation vested in the commanding officer and the higher chain of command. They will have no responsibility for budgets, objective setting, policy or staff selection.

5. Composition

IAPs are non-statutory bodies and their composition will depend on the circumstances for each establishment. IAPs might include opinion formers in the local community, who between them are able to speak with knowledge, credibility and experience on a range of issues that might relate to the operation of the training establishment and the training of young people. Examples might include local teachers, youth workers, social workers, councillors, religious figures (all faiths), policemen/women, businessmen/women, health professionals or sports personalities. The chairperson will be elected by the panel, and will not be a member of the training establishment. IAP membership from the training establishment could be:

a. School Commander/Commanding Officer;

b. Independent Complaints Officer (ICO);

c. Welfare Officer;

d. COS/Adjt to provide the secretarial function.

6. Frequency

IAPs will meet termly (three times a year) or as the School Commander/Commanding Officer and Chairperson decide.

7. Output

IAPs will write an annual report to the School Commander/Commanding Officer, recording key issues raised and action taken.

The ongoing composition of a panel is a matter for the respective chairperson, once elected, in consultation with the respective training establishment and, externally the headquarters of the ARTD.

While parents of service personnel are not specifically identified as potential members of the IAP, they are not excluded, and it is implicit in the Terms of reference (paragraph 3) that an IAP would wish to seek the views of recruits and trainees.