The Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, has agreed to make it a statutory requirement for Government to receive an annual, independent update from the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association on the recruitment and retention of Reservists.
He was speaking in a House of Commons debate on a specific proposal contained in an amendment to the Defence Reform Bill proposed by Conservative MP Julian Brazier (Canterbury and Whitstable).
Mr Hammond said: “I hope it might be helpful if I am able to indicate to the House at this stage we are minded to accept the principle of your new clause … indeed we have already made arrangements to receive independent reports from the RFCA (Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association) on an annual basis.
“You are suggesting placing that requirement in statute and on reflection we consider that is a sensible idea and will strengthen the programme for the growth and reinvigoration of our Reserves.”
Mr Baron’s amendment sought to give both peers and MPs the power to block the Government’s proposals, which would see the size of the Army Reserve, as the Territorial Army will be called, to 30,000 from 19,000 now – while reducing the regular force by 20,000 by 2020.
It was defeated in the Commons by 306 votes to 252, a government majority of 54.
The Wessex Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association, one of 13 such independent, not-for-profit organisations around the UK, already has a statutory remit to give advice and assistance to the Defence Council and all three Services at any level.
Like its 12 counterparts across the UK, it is dedicated to supporting and promoting the 3,000 tri-service Reservists and 14,000 Cadets across the South West of England.