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Armed Forces: Rescue Services

Volume 485: debated on Monday 15 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what training his Department provides to military personnel on responding to emergencies and natural disasters. (242881)

Those elements of the armed forces which provide specialist capabilities to the civil authorities are regularly trained and exercised for their role. These include explosive ordnance disposal and search and rescue teams, civil contingencies reaction forces and counter terrorist forces.

Other elements of the armed forces will not routinely be involved in responding to emergencies or natural disasters, although they might be used to support the lead responders in particularly difficult circumstances. They would be provided with such training as was necessary prior to any such deployment. Defence also takes part in the national exercise programme in order to ensure that it can provide any support required by the lead responder. The Services chain of command in the regions of the UK is provided with regular training, education and exercising on the nature of military operations in the UK to ensure that they are prepared to command operations at short notice if required.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of UK's overseas military commitments on the ability of the armed forces to respond to a domestic emergency. (242882)

The Department's current overseas commitments have not at any time prevented the MOD from providing military assistance to the civilian authorities where it has been requested.