HC Deb 06 April 1976 vol 909 cc221-2
24. Mr. David Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will set up a compulsory insurance scheme for part-time soldiers on military exercises.

Mr. Robert C. Brown

No, Sir. When a reservist's death or injury is attributable to service, and arises in the course of peace-time exercises or training, benefits are already payable under the Department of Health and Social Security's war pensions scheme. In addition, the widow or, in the event of injury resulting in his discharge, the reservist himself receives further benefits from the Ministry of Defence.

Mr. Steel

Is the Under-Secretary satisfied that these provisions are adequate? Is he aware that this Question was tabled in the wake of the unfortunate accident on the River Trent, when a number of Scottish reservists met their deaths? Is he aware of the public concern about the inadequacy of the arrangements that he has just outlined?

Mr. Brown

I am aware of the fact that this question first raised its head publicly at the time of the Kiel Canal disaster, when several reservists lost their lives, and that it was raised further with the tragedy on the River Trent last year. However, I am well satisfied that the provisions that we have made are adequate to meet the purpose.

Dr. Glyn

Is the Minister aware that there should be no discrimination between soldiers in the Regular Army and reservists in terms of accidents that occur when they are on duty? There seems to be no justification for this discrimination.

Mr. Brown

The fact is that there is no discrimination. I am sorry that the hon. Member has suggested that there is. Following the disaster at Kiel, the scheme that we introduced covered reservists as well as Regulars.