I propose to take Questions Nos. 386 to 388, inclusive, together.
Section 11 of the Defence Act 1954 provides that there shall stand established a body to be called the Council of Defence. The Council consists of the Minister of State at the Department of Defence, the Secretary General of the Department, the Chief of Staff, the Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) and the Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations). The function of the Council which is provided for in section 11(1) is to aid and counsel the Minister for Defence on all matters in relation to the business of the Department of Defence on which the Minister may consult the Council. No other functions have been assigned to the Council other than the specific function provided for in the Act.
The Council last met in 1987. The Department is currently retrieving a file from the archives to check as to whether there were any minutes kept of the meeting and I will correspond with the Deputy when this information is to hand.
Although the Council of Defence has not been convened in recent years, advice is readily available to the Minister from civil and military staff without the formality of the Council. In this regard, the Minister regularly chairs meetings of the Defence Organisations Leadership team with all members of the Department's Management Board and the General Staff in attendance. The Minister also attends meetings from time to time of the Department's Management Board and also receives regular briefings from the Secretary General as his principal policy adviser and the Chief of Staff as his principal military adviser.
As members of the Council are full time officials, military personnel or office holders, no expenses or allowances are payable arising from their membership of the Council.