To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will make an assessment of the effect of implementation of Military Aid to Civil Authorities on the ability of the armed forces to defend the UK.
27 June 2022
Defence support under the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) system is carefully calibrated to ensure there is no impact on the ability of the Armed Forces to defend the UK. Defence of the UK is of course our highest priority. The nature, scale and volume of requests under MACA means that the majority are met by assigning latent capacity that can be reprioritised in the short term, and do not therefore impact upon core Defence tasks. MACA tasks may occasionally have a modest impact on training schedules, though in some cases the task itself provides training opportunities (particularly in highly specialist areas such as explosive ordnance disposal, medical evacuation, diving, cyber or intelligence).
Where there is a risk of impact upon core Defence tasks, Ministers are made aware of the risks and costs of diverting resources to support a MACA task in order that they can judge the balance of priorities. This was the approach taken with COVID-19. In the early stages of the pandemic, a number of lower priority Defence tasks were paused or halted to allow the establishment of the COVID Support Force. It should be noted that even at the height of military support to the COVID-19 response, critical Defence tasks and operations were maintained.