§ Mr. Ian Stewart
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the use of Sponsored Reserves. 
§ Mr. Spellar
The first agreement for the use of what are familiarly known as "Sponsored Reserves" was signed on 27 October 2000 on behalf of the Meteorological Office and the RAF's HQ Strike Command. Introduced by the Reserve Forces Act 1996, this new form of reserve service extends the ability of the private sector and Government agencies to provide specialist support on operations as well as in peacetime. More properly known as special members of a reserve force, sponsored reservists are employed as civilians in peacetime and as volunteer members of a reserve force when deployed to support operations.
The Mobile Meteorological Unit (MMU) provides meteorological support to the RAF in peacetime and to UK and Allied Forces when these forces are operating away from their fixed bases. Some 60 staff of the MMU form a unit of the RAF Reserve. Members will be routinely called out on a rotational basis under the terms and conditions of employment developed from the abroad consultation process with Industry that followed the Reserve Forces Act's coming into force in April 1997. This agreement represents the first use of the SR concept by my Department and builds on the established working pattern of the MMU which has supported operations since 1962 with great distinction.