HC Deb 07 February 2000 vol 344 cc26-7W
Mr. Malins

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many British civilians were(a) seconded and (b) contracted to Her Majesty's Forces in the war theatre during the Gulf War; if they came under military discipline; and what insurance arrangements were made on their behalf by Her Majesty's Government. [107284]

Mr. Spellar

Civilians, including foreign nationals, based in the UK and overseas, played a vital role in supporting British Forces during the 1990–91 Gulf conflict, but the precise number seconded (that is attached to British Forces) has not been determined. However, a review of Ministry of Defence (MOD) records shows that on 22 February 1991, 931 MOD civilian staff were reported as being in the Gulf theatre, but not all were working in direct support of British Forces. Of these, 785 were members of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary. In addition, there were a significant number of civilian contractors' employees working in direct support of British Forces in the Gulf theatre. My Department conservatively estimates that the number of civilian contractors' employees involved would have been in excess of 1,000 people.

All civilians (including contractors) serving with any part of British Forces who were on active service would have been subject to military discipline.

The MOD does not normally purchase insurance. In accordance with Treasury guidelines and in common with other Government Departments, the MOD underwrites its own financial risks and pays claims for compensation directly out of current expenditure. When compensation claims are submitted, they are considered on the basis of whether or not the MOD has a legal liability to pay compensation. Where there is a legal liability to pay compensation we do so. No insurance would have been purchased by the MOD covering British civilians seconded or contracted to British Forces during the Gulf conflict. This would be a matter for the employing organisations and the individuals themselves. The MOD would expect the cost of any insurance to be reflected in the contract price.

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