§ Mr. Pound
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the future of the Territorial Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Associations. 
§ Mr. Spellar
The future structure of the Territorial Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve Associations (TAVRAs) has been the subject of a joint study involving the TAVRAs themselves and the Ministry of Defence. I have accepted the joint recommendation of the Commander in Chief Land Command and Chairman of the Council of TAVRAs, to set in hand new arrangements to ensure that the areas of responsibility of TAVRAs in England are aligned to those of Government office regions. Arrangements in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will be unchanged. As a result, there will be a reduction in the number of Associations from the present 14 to 13. This reduction will be achieved by the amalgamation of the South East and Eastern Wessex Associations to form a new Association covering the counties of Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Responsibility for carrying out the Eastern Wessex Association's current functions in Dorset will transfer to the Western Wessex Association. This robust and coherent structure recognises the essential tri-Service nature of the TAVRAs, who provide an essential link between the community and the Armed Forces, whilst the changes to the financial566W arrangements that accompany it will promote a closer working partnership between the TAVRAs who administer the volunteer estate, and the Army's regional command structure, which will command Territorial Army units themselves.
The TAVRAs are established under the Reserve Forces Act of 1996, and these changes will be presented to the House in due course; we expect them to be complete by April 2002.