HC Deb 15 December 1998 vol 322 c445W
Mr. Swinney

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the offices or agencies under his control which will be subject to L.2 of Head L in Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998; how many people are currently employed in these offices; and what equal opportunities practices are adopted in these offices. [63804]

Mr. Doug Henderson

There were some 23,200 Service and civilian personnel based at 116 locations in Scotland, as at 1 April 1998 (the most recent date for which figures are available). All of these personnel will continue to be subject to the appropriate UK legislation. For the 10,000 civilian personnel this involves compliance with the Equal Pay Act 1970, the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, the Race Relations Act 1976, and the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, listed in Head L2 of Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act, as well as Departmental policies against unfair discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, age and religious belief. In order for the Armed Forces to maintain combat effectiveness they are granted an exemption from the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, in Section 85(4) of the Act, and from the employment provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. Current policy is also that homosexuals are not allowed to serve in the Armed Forces; this issue will be reviewed in the lifetime of this Parliament. Aside from these specific exceptions the Armed Forces are committed to equality of opportunity irrespective of gender, religion, ethnic or social background and vigorous policies are in place to ensure that this is achieved.