Skip to main content

Reserve Forces

Volume 554: debated on Monday 26 November 2012

15. What support he has received from major employers for the proposals set out in his reserves Green Paper. (129614)

The Government are fully committed to delivering reserve forces that are integral to and integrated with the regular forces, and we are investing an additional £1.8 billion over the next 10 years to meet that aim. Our aspirations, as set out in the “Future Reserves 2020” Green Paper, will require a closer relationship with employers, based on partnering and on giving greater predictability and certainty to the employer, the reservist and the Ministry of Defence.

What specific support have the Government put in place for small and medium-sized enterprises to employ reservists, given that SMEs will face the greatest struggle to achieve this?

When we mobilise a reservist we already provide financial assistance to employers, to help both with recruiting an additional employee and to pay some marginal additional costs for their employment in certain circumstances. We are examining this area extremely closely in the context of the Green Paper and if we have further proposals to announce to strengthen things even further, we will make them plain in the White Paper in the spring of next year.

I have told the House that we provide some financial support to employers when we mobilise a reservist. We are examining this closely in the context of the Green Paper, but I encourage my hon. Friend to submit any specific suggestions to the Green Paper process. I should also add that companies such as BT, Carillion, Serco, the Automobile Association and BAE Systems have shown their support to our reservists in the consultation process, but clearly we would like to see more contributions from SMEs, too.

Earlier this year, the Government announced quite radical changes to our reserve forces. I understand that the recruitment campaign has already begun. What confidence does the Minister have that those recruited will have their employment rights protected without a change in the law? Will he update us on where the Department is with the review of Defence Estates?

I take a close interest in this matter. I spent the best part of a day at Army HQ last week going in detail through proposals to increase the size of the reserve forces. We are considering the issue extremely closely. The Green Paper asks employers and others whether we might need primary legislation to change some of the terms, but as the consultation has only just begun it is perhaps a little rich of the hon. Gentleman to ask me what the answer is.