DEF190304 - No. 17

Session 2003-04, 19 March 2004

Duty of Care Inquiry - Terms of Reference


Details of an inquiry have today been announced by the Defence Committee, looking into the duty of care regimes in initial training establishments in all three services of the Armed Forces. The Terms of Reference are as follows:

  • To examine how the Armed Forces discharge their duty of care responsibilities to recruits under initial training.

  • To consider what improvements might be made to the duty of care regime for these recruits, consistent with maintaining operational effectiveness.

  • To examine the Armed Forces’ ability to assess risk to recruits under training and their ability to recommend improvements to the care regime.

  • To examine the effectiveness with which these recommendations are implemented.

  • To consider the need for independent oversight of Armed Forces recruit training.

The inquiry is expected to last until early in 2005.

The Committee is well aware that there have been calls for a public inquiry into specific deaths at Army training establishments and understands why such demands are being made.

The Committee is not suited to undertaking this type of inquiry. It does not have the specialist capabilities to enable it to inquire into specific deaths.

The Committee stresses that the duty of care inquiry which it is announcing today is not intended to be a substitute for a public inquiry into past events. It will, however, include consideration of the three issues raised by Surrey Police in their recommendation for a broader inquiry.

Announcing the inquiry’s terms of reference, Defence Committee Chairman Rt Hon Bruce George MP said:

“Although our inquiry was prompted by the deaths of young soldiers at Deepcut barracks and elsewhere, we are not a substitute for the police, or for the judicial process.

“We will not be questioning the findings of the police or of the coroner about how specific deaths occurred.

“I hope, however, that our inquiry will be seen to be in everyone’s interests, by helping to ensure that the armed forces exercise properly their duty of care towards recruits under training.”

Over the next few months the Committee will be taking written and oral evidence from a wide range of key players and interested parties. Details of oral evidence sessions will be announced once witnesses are confirmed.

Details on how to submit evidence can be found on the Committee’s website at:

The Committee invites all interested parties to submit written evidence which addresses these terms of reference. The deadline for the submission of evidence is Monday 19 April 2004.

Evidence should be submitted by e-mail as a Word document to The body of the e-mail must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The subject line of the e-mail should also make clear who the submission is from and the title of the inquiry. If it is not possible to submit evidence by e-mail, it may be sent by post to the address above, marked for the attention of the Clerk of the Defence Committee.

Submissions should be concise, and certainly no more than 3,000 words. Those submitting evidence are reminded that evidence should be original work, not previously published or circulated elsewhere. Once submitted, no public use should be made of evidence, unless permission has first been obtained from the Clerk of the Committee.


1. Terms of reference define broadly the scope of a Committee inquiry, setting out the ground that the Committee intends to cover.

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon Bruce George MP (Chairman), Mr Crispin Blunt MP, Mr James Cran MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Mike Gapes MP, Mr Mike Hancock CBE MP, Dai Havard MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Mr Frank Roy MP, Rachel Squire MP, Mr Peter Viggers MP.

3. Surrey Police’s Final Report in its Deepcut Investigation recommended a broader investigation of: 1. whether the risks identified at Deepcut are replicated across the wider Army Training and Recruitment Organisation and how these may relate to the issues of self-harm, suicide and undetermined deaths; 2. how the Army’s care regime may be further improved; 3. how independent oversight might help the Army define and maintain appropriate standards of care for young soldiers.

4. The Defence Committee is appointed to examine on behalf of the House of Commons the expenditure, administration and policy of the Ministry of Defence.  Its constitution and powers are set out in House of Commons Standing Order No.152.

5. The Committee has a maximum of eleven members, of whom the quorum for any formal proceedings is three.  The members of the Committee are appointed by the House and unless discharged remain on the Committee until the next dissolution of Parliament.

6. News Release: 17


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