Tom Parfitt in Moscow writes in the Guardian's weather blog:
Russia is - unsurprisingly - well-equipped for battling snow. From its fleets of
gritting lorries to its nationwide army of dvorniki - the street cleaners who wake
Russians every winter morning with the "scrape-scrape" of their shovels - this a
country that knows how to fight the frost.
But a new piece of snow-clearing hardware being used in the Urals city of Nizhny
Tagil has shocked even the locals: The T-72 tank.
"The thing is that tractors and other special machinery can't always cope with
drifts more than a metre high," explained Ivan Sakharov of UralVagonZavod , the
town's famous factory that converted from building train carriages to tanks during
the Second World War. "But our tanks can."
The Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luf MP, today laid in Parliament, a Green Paper entitled Equipment, Support andTechnology for UK Defence and Security: A Consultation Paper.
He said "The first duty of Government is the security of our nation. It is therefore
essential that the UK equips itself with the right tools to tackle current and
future threats. The convergence of defence and security that underpinned the
Strategic Defence and Security Review means that we should seek to bring together
our approach to equipment, support, and technology in both the defence and security
sectors. I have therefore worked with the Minister for Security in preparing this
Green Paper to reflect our new approach. We have also included cyber security as a
separate section because it is a new and fundamental challenge.
"Our default position is to use open competition in the global market; to buy
off-the-shelf where we can; and to promote open markets in defence and security
capabilities. We will take action to protect our operational advantages and freedom
of action, but only where essential for national security.
"The UK currently enjoys a strong industrial presence in the defence and security
markets and export success abroad in those markets; last year, defence and security
exports achieved around £8.5 billion revenue. We are committed to doing more to
promote exports of both defence and security products from the UK to responsible
nations, as well as to boost the role of small and medium sized enterprises, both in
their direct and indirect supplies to the Government and its agencies."
The Green Paper is available online at http://defenceconsultations.org.uk/. The
formal public consultation period will run from January to March 2011 The Government plans
to publish a White Paper on these issues in 2011.
Defence Viewpoints will publish further comment and analysis shortly
The Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans (Andrew Robathan MP ) today announced that the
Government is committed to providing effective, through-life, health services for UK Service and ex-Service personnel.
As part of this commitment, the Department of Health and Devolved Administrations, with support from the Ministry of Defence has piloted a new mental health care service for former members of the Armed Forces in six National Health Service trusts across the UK. The final pilot, in Scotland, is due to be completed in April 2011.
Independent evaluation of the pilots by the University of Sheffield Centre for Psychological Services Research, which my Department commissioned, has been completed. Their independent evaluation report has been published today.
The Report identifies key components of successful services and makes a number of recommendations. The Department of Health will consider the Report and examine how its recommendations fit with existing and planned enhancements to NHS veterans mental health services, including those recommended by Dr Andrew Murrison MP.
There is a general proposition promulgated recently that all UK defence procurement is bad.
One example is the Landing Ship Dock (the Bay Class, one of which is to be laid up under current Government defence cuts proposals)
But on at least two occasions, in public (though under the Chatham House rule) a senior responsible person at the National Audit Office has been heard to say that even so, they represented value for money.
The solution was innovative - to buy a Dutch design and build to MoD requirements. The low cost tender-winning solution - Swan Hunter - was low cost because it gad reduced its technical and management capabilities to compete on price in global markets. SO when the MoD started changing the specification, the strategy started to unravel and all the other bad things started to happen.
So there are lessons here. Bespoke costs more than off-the-peg (ask any suit buyer. And the alterations cost.) The best is the enemy of the good. if we want manufacturing and operational sovereignty, we have to pay for it.
If we buy foreign, they can still exercise control, usually through the software. (c.f. Chinook Mk 3, another oft-sited failure) Or in the case of Belgium during the Gulf War, by declining to supply what we need to make systems work in combat 9in that case, ammunition)
As my father used to say, it it were easy, any fool would be able to do it.
So good luck in your new post as Chief of Defence Materiel, Mr Gray. On tip for free however. take another look at the basic suggestions behind the Smart Procurement initiative of the late nineties. And if you can't get the military out of the mechanics of procurement (as opposed to the specification of capability requirements) make sure they can get promotion in place while working for you. then make them stick at their posts until that capability is delivered. Clear lines of control and senior management with whom the buck stops would be a logical, effective and cheap fix.
Bernard Gray has been appointed as the MOD's Chief of Defence Materiel, leading on the delivery of all aspects of the Defence Equipment and Support Plan. This includes responsibility for MOD assets worth £104Billion and an annual operating budget of £13Billion.
Bernard Gray replaces General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue who has been in the post since its creation in April 2007 and is retiring. Bernard Gray will take up his 4 year appointment on 4 January 2011.
By Nick Watts, Defence Correspondent, Great North News Services
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has again highlighted the lack of control in the way the MOD manages its finances. Under a new Chairman, Margaret Hodge MP, the committee has returned to the cause pursued by its predecessor in the last parliament. In sum the PAC states that the MOD does not have a handle on its finances, and this is exemplified by the way it manages the defence estate.
With an annual expenditure of some £42 bn the MOD is responsible for a defence estate which is valued at some £20 bn. In an unnerving parallel with the equipment programme, the PAC reports that the department is not sure whether its estate holding is too big, too small, or just right. The PAC also notes the department has a £36 bn shortfall in funding over the next decade. This mostly consists of the forward Equipment Programme. For the time being the MOD can ascribe these problems to the shortcomings of its predecessor. It remains to be seen how this picture will change next year. Lord Levene's Defence Reform Unit will have almost finished its work by then, and the results should be filtering through to such areas as this. Gripping the financial management of the MOD is one of Liam Fox's top priorities. We shall see.
This is a synopsis of the Public Accounts Committee critical report.
The Ministry of Defence (the Department) is responsible for over £42 billion of annual expenditure. While it has managed to stay within budget each year, it has failed to exercise the robust financial management necessary to control its resources effectively in the long term. It has also failed to match its future plans to a realistic assessment of the resources available. There is a shortfall in planned expenditure against likely funding of up to £36 billion over the next ten years. The Strategic Defence and Security Review did not explicitly set out how this long-standing gap between defence spending and funding would be resolved.
The Department's consistent pattern of planned overspend demonstrates serious organisational failings and a dangerous culture of optimism. The underlying reasons for the systemic failings in budgetary controls are the tendency towards financial over-commitment, weaknesses in the financial planning processes and a division in responsibilities and accountability for financial stewardship. The failure to integrate financial planning and control into decision making means that cuts in programmes and delays in expenditure on defence equipment are made very late in the day, leading to inefficiency, poor value for money and longer term additional costs.
The Accounting Officer has not discharged his responsibility to ensure that planned and committed expenditure across the defence budget represents value for money. For example, in 2008 the Department signed a contract to buy new aircraft carriers which was unaffordable, without having identified compensating savings. Because these savings were not subsequently found, it was necessary within a year to delay the project, resulting in an enormous cost increase and poor value for money.
We were astonished to learn that the Department has not had an explicit financial strategy linking its funding to its priorities. Without a clear strategy, it is difficult to resolve funding conflicts or to reallocate resources when priorities change. The Department does not have the tools to help it to revisit assumptions underlying its plans, ensure plans are realistic and make provision for unexpected events and managing risk.
Furthermore, the Department does not prioritise individual elements of the defence programme against its strategic priorities. When financial savings have to be found there is then no clear basis for determining where cuts should be made. So in-year decisions on budget cuts are made on an ad hoc basis, without proper consideration of relevant priorities and needs.
The Department has made some inroads into improving its financial management; however, it has yet to give financial management the serious consideration that it deserves. The Department has now appointed a professionally qualified Finance Director, and has undertaken to provide him with the full authority he needs to do the job.
On managing the defence estate
The defence estate covers 1.5% of the UK land mass, is valued at over £20 billion, and costs an estimated £2.9 billion per year to run. The Department has reduced the amount of built estate in the UK by 4.3% between 1998 and 2008, and achieved £3.4billion in sale receipts. However, staffing over the same period was cut by 13%, so more of the estate could and should have been released.
The Department does not assess its estate against clear objective criteria, such as the cost of running a site or the intensity of usage. The bias appears to always lie with keeping a site rather than disposing of it.
The Department does not collect centrally the information and data that would allow it to manage its estate in an effective way. It appears to lack urgency in its plans to improve its information base.
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, commented:
"The MOD's poor financial management has led to a potential shortfall of spending against funding over the next decade of £36 billion.
"It is astonishing that the Department has hitherto failed to develop a proper long-term financial strategy linking its funding to its core priorities and providing a clear basis for making cuts. Instead, it has managed to stay within budget each year by making short-term and ad hoc in-year decisions to cut programmes and defer the acquisition of kit. These have led to inefficiency and even greater costs in the longer term.
"This situation must change without delay. We welcome the MOD's appointment of a professionally qualified finance director and expect the Department to give him the powers he needs to do the job.
"We also want to see improvements in the MOD's decision-making about the defence estate which covers 1.5% of the country. The Department simply cannot say whether the estate is too large, too small or the right size. Managing a £20 billion asset with virtually no understanding of its cost or efficiency is entirely unacceptable."
Summary of key recommendations
1. Armed Forces Community Covenant
The Community Covenant has its roots in a successful US scheme in which states and towns (incorporating local government and local service providers, the voluntary sector and private companies) voluntarily pledge support for the „Armed Forces family‟ (including Service personnel, veterans and their respective families, including the bereaved) in their area.
Who could pledge support to the Community Covenant? Local Authorities (including county councils) would provide an ideal focus, depending on local needs (for example, in some areas the regional military structure might work more effectively with county councils; in other areas Local Authorities might be a more appropriate focus). There is nothing to stop a county and a town within that county both pledging support, as in the US. Private companies could also pledge to work with Local Authorities or sign up individually to offer benefits or services to the military community. Community Covenants also provide a framework for charities to cooperate with each other, and with the public and private sector, at the local level. Individuals would be encouraged to show their support as part of the Community Covenant – for example by volunteering to work with a charity, organising events, or making donations.
How could communities be encouraged to get involved? It could in principle be possible to impose a duty on Local Authorities to make provisions under the Community Covenant. However, the example of the US, and of existing civil-military partnerships in the UK, shows that a voluntary scheme can be equally, if not more, effective. Public commitment (via a pledging ceremony or similar) creates pressure to meet obligations and raises public awareness, encouraging community groups and individuals to take part. Potential benefits to civilian authorities, companies and charities include: better targeting of resources; sharing facilities and land; good publicity and ongoing good news coverage. Meeting obligations to the military community should not impose significant costs on local government.
Existing examples of civil-military partnerships in the UK and of public support for the military demonstrate the potential of the Community Covenant to gain local support and improve life for the local Armed Forces community.
Central government role Support could come in a number of forms, depending on the level of central government participation deemed necessary. Given the scope for local variations in the adoption and delivery, central government‟s role in promoting the "key ingredients" of a Community Covenant could be particularly valuable.
Examples could include: provision of a Community Covenant template document for organisations to pledge to; guidance on key areas of priority (such as disregarding compensation payments for means testing); a central Community Covenant website (to link to news stories and information about local schemes); issuing of formal scroll/certification or logo for businesses; organisation/funding for formal pledging ceremonies; funding to cover any initial start-up costs (though these should be minimal). Funding might not be available from central government but sponsorship could be sought from private companies or charities.
The Task Force sees Community Covenants as a framework for providing much of the support needed by Service personnel and their families, although we have also identified a number of other low-cost measures which could improve support for serving regulars, reservists, and families (including the bereaved).
2. Recognition for the Armed Forces Family
Policy options: Veterans‟ Privilege Card – funded by charitable funding, charging users, or updating Service ID cards. Service Families‟ Card – similar to above, although uses (such as access to military bases) could vary. Army Reservists‟ ID cards – these would be similar to Service ID cards used by Regulars. Charging is not a practical option, as the cards would need to be the property of the MOD.
Veterans‟ Privilege Cards and Service Families Cards would allow veterans and Service families to identify themselves to service providers and to claim any discounts offered by private companies under the Community Covenant. A more secure chip-and-pin card could also allow veterans internet access to online pension details, and could enable access to bases at the discretion of commanding officers. This also applies to Service families. Some Army Reservists have no formal means of identifying their status between deployments, and a Reservist ID card would allow this.
3. Explore options for increasing home ownership among Service families
Policy options: Encouraging home ownership is a long-term aspiration, and in particular is difficult to achieve while mobility forms a central part of Service life. Most options involve upfront costs, while reduced reliance on Service accommodation would generate cashable savings only when pockets of estate were vacated and could be handed back. Options recommended for further exploration include: enhancing accommodation allowances; expanding a pilot shared equity scheme (launched in January 2010 and funds for the first year have been fully taken up); exploring options for boosting take-up of the Government‟s low cost home ownership programme "HomeBuy", including raising awareness; encouraging a bank or banks to offer favourable mortgage rates to Service personnel. The Task Force suggests holding a PM/Chancellor-chaired summit of major banks at No. 10 to explore this last option further.
Service Families Accommodation (SFA) costs around £285m per annum; some of this accommodation is in poor condition, and the cost of upgrading these 50,000 homes is substantial. Encouraging families to move into home ownership would benefit the families by giving them a foot on the housing ladder, and family stability for education, healthcare, partner‟s career, etc. This would generate savings to the MOD in the long term.
4. Veterans‟ policy and coordination of veterans‟ charities
Policy options : A Veterans‟ Commissioner or Champion, to act as the champion of veterans and guide veterans‟ policy (possibly operating through a department external to the MOD such as the Cabinet Office). The Commissioner or Champion could be supported by a cross-departmental advisory committee including representatives of charities.
Separately from this, options for better coordination of veterans‟ charities include:
o Services and Veterans‟ Charities Advisory Board (SVCAB) responsible for determining priorities for veterans (possibly based on the existing Central Advisory Committee on pensions and compensation within the MOD. This could report to a Commissioner (or Champion), if such an option were pursued, or could stand alone.
o A framework for coordinating the activities of veterans‟ charities (as is provided by Veterans Scotland). This could be coordinated by the suggested SVCAB.
o A "shopping list" of areas of greatest need could be compiled to help guide charities on how their funding could best be directed. (Possibly compiled by the suggested SVCAB or Commissioner/Champion, although other options should be explored.)
o Local coordination of charities through the Community Covenant.
There is some contradiction between the MOD‟s principal aim of delivering military capability and the task of administering veterans‟ welfare services, and the Task Force has found widespread stakeholder support for a Veterans‟ Commissioner or similar. Collectively the numerous Service charities have considerable resources and many offer excellent support, particularly to veterans. However, the sheer diversity of the sector can cause confusion and there is concern that their full resources are not currently being tapped. Charities‟ activities can be determined by their own priorities rather than the needs of veterans.
5. Education throughout Service career
Policy options: Support for Service personnel in career planning, through a clear, and jargon-free personnel strategy. Build more personal responsibility into service life to improve the self-reliance of personnel at little or no additional cost. Ongoing formal education during military training, including making Service personnel aware of existing schemes and providing more options at an earlier stage of a service career. „Life skills‟ training throughout service (as opposed to concentrating training at the end of a career). Some Service personnel have little knowledge of everyday tasks such as opening and managing a bank account, securing housing, understanding benefits, or drawing up a will.
Those who are well educated in service both stay longer, giving better returns on their training, and are better prepared for their transition to civilian life.
6. Strengthening links between civilians and the military
Policy options: Covenant or Chief of Defence Staff Commendation – for those institutions and individuals outside the service who do outstanding work for the military community. Greater community engagement by the military – encouraging civic participation; greater sharing of facilities; encouraging the military to talk about experiences. Increase the visibility of the Armed Forces – building on Armed Forces Day and encouraging homecoming parades and open days. Encouraging wider cultural engagement – such as „War Story‟, and Imperial War Museum Project; theatre productions such as The Great Game; and stronger links with universities.
Public awareness of the work of the services has increased enormously, and there is widespread sympathy for the losses of life and limb sustained by those who serve. However, sympathy does not generate understanding. Many people in Britain have little or no contact with the Armed Forces and have little understanding of military life. There is a need to build on public support to create a greater and more enduring understanding.
David Cameron has unveiled the Strategic Defence Review.
The key points are:
Defence spending to be cut by 8% in real terms over the next four years
There will be no cut in support for military operations in Afghanistan
- Personnel to be reduced to 95,500 by 2015
- The Army is to return from Germany by 2020
- Tanks and heavy artillery to be reduced by 40%
- More Chinook helicopters to be made available
- Personnel will fall to 30,000 by 2015
- 7 Astute Class Submarines and 6 Type-45 Destroyers will be built. There will also be a new development programme aimed at building frigates.
- HMS Ark Royal will be decommissioned ahead of schedule in 2014
- Construction of two new aircraft carriers to go ahead. One carrier will be held in extended readiness. The carrier version of the Joint Strike Fighter will be purchased.
- The decision on a replacement for the Trident subamarines delayed until 2016
Royal Air Force
- Personel to be reduced to 33,000 by 2015
- Harrier jump jets to be retired, Nimrod MRA4 reconnaisance plans to be cancelled.
- The RAF will sustain the use of the Tornado, Typhoon and JSF.
- There will be increased use of unmanned aerial vehicles
The full document can be read here .
DEFENCE & SECURITY REVIEW – UK INDUSTRY REACTION
A|D|S, the UK's AeroSpace, Defence and Security trade organisation today (Tuesday) commented on the Prime Minister's Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) announcement in the House of Commons.
Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, said:
"Today is a difficult day for everyone involved, from our armed forces to the industry that is proud to supply them and the politicians who are making these tough decisions to deal with issues from the past in order to look to the future.
"The key test of the success of the Review will be the extent to which it ensures that the UK has the industrial capabilities to address long-term future security needs and that our armed forces are equipped for the tasks that the nation asks of them. Today's announcement marks the beginning of a process, not the end of one. We will now work with the MoD as it produces its Defence Industrial Technology Policy to deliver the Review's aims in practical terms.
"Industry welcomes the clarity provided by the Review, which will ensure that plans can be adapted to meet new situations and future investment decisions can be made.
"The UK is a world-leader in the defence sector and to retain this position the industry and the Government must work together. This will deliver benefits for our armed forces, the UK economy, our export strength and the 300,000 people that work in UK defence – who are proud of the job that they do for our armed forces and for the delivery of over £32 billion per year for the country.
"Alongside the multinational firms based in Britain we also have more small and medium sized enterprises in defence than France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Norway combined. They are the bedrock on which our defence success is based and their needs must not be forgotten if the UK is to retain its ability to supply and support our troops to the highest possible standard."
The UK defence industry provides a key component of the nation's military capability in support of our troops and is an economic success story. Therefore, the need is for the Review to sustain UK-based industrial capabilities, exports and research and technology – all of which are crucial to the long-term future of our armed forces and our industrial base. Furthermore, a renewed focus on exports to boost demand will enable the industry to retain crucial capabilities that will allow it to continue to provide the best possible equipment and support to our own armed forces. Such joined-up working would deliver more adaptable, affordable and exportable equipment that will benefit the UK's armed forces and its economy.
In a written ministerial statement to Parliament announcing the publication of the National Security Strategy, the IK Prime Minister said today:
"The United Kingdom faces a complex array of threats from a myriad of sources. The National Security Strategy describes the strategic context within which these threats arise, and how they may develop in the future.
"It describes Britain's place in the world as an open, outward-facing nation whose political, economic and cultural authority far exceeds our size. Our national interest requires our continued full and active engagement in world affairs, promoting our security, our prosperity and our values.
"Our objectives are a secure and resilient United Kingdom, and shaping a stable world. In pursuit of these goals, our highest priorities are tackling terrorism, cyber security, international military crises and national disasters such as floods and pandemics.
"We will draw together and use all the instruments of national power to tackle these risks, including the Armed Forces, diplomats, intelligence and development professionals, the police, the private sector and the British people themselves.
"The National Security Strategy, together with the measures in the Strategic Defence and Security Review, will enable us to protect our security and advance our interest in the world."
Editor's note : You don't say.....
Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, (the Aerospace, defence and security trade organisation) said:
"The Government has identified within its new National Security Strategy the broad range of security risks that face the country and against which the nation and its citizens must be protected. We welcome the strategy and the incorporation of wider security aspects alongside the defence elements of the Strategic Defence and Security Review. These include the country's approach to cyber-security, international terrorism, serious organised crime and energy security. These wider elements are important parts of the National Security Strategy and we believe that the security industry has many roles to play in meeting these challenges.
"Security and resilience is a sector that can also benefit the country's economy. The UK has strong industrial capabilities and there is great potential for these to produce increased exports and an expanded industrial base in the UK. A closer partnership between Government and industry will help to deliver national security objectives but it will also help to fulfil the economic potential of a potentially world-leading sector. The global security market is growing and is estimated to be worth around $140-180bn annually. Industry and Government share the goal of a major uplift in the performance of UK security exports with the Government playing a similar role in security to that played in relation to defence exports.
"Industry looks forward to further developing its dialogue with the Home Office, Cabinet Office and other departments on strengthening co-operation in tackling key threats to national security such as terrorism and cyber attacks. We also welcome the Government's renewed focus arising from the SDSR on the resilience of Critical National Infrastructure (CNI). The security supply community has many roles to play in CNI protection and resilience; especially by supporting the emergency services and the operators of the CNI. The operators are themselves overwhelmingly made up of private sector entities - with capabilities relevant to this crucial element of national security policy."
There was a hint today from UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox that there could be a radical change to the new aircraft carriers already under construction.
When the design was first unveiled, some play was made of the fact that they were "adaptable" - i.e. while the principal plan was to operate STOVL aircraft (F-35B replacing Harriers) the design could allow for catapults and arrester wires to be installed instead.
Writing in The Times, Dr Fox criticised "the decision to order aircraft carriers that are not fully interoperable with our two closest allies - the United States and France. Neither the French Rafale nor the US Navy's planned version of the Joint Strike Fighter could land or take off from our carriers.
"The design of the carriers also meant that the variant of JSF as planned is the most expensive."
Although he goes on to say that "getting the carriers right would take longer and is likely to cost more", there are clear seeds there. After all, the F-35C - US Navy variant - is cheaper, has a longer range and greater "throw weight". This could justify a reduction in numbers on the basis of greater capability, and although time is money - as today's National Audit Office Major Projects Report clearly shows - there wouldn't be too much gnashing of teeth if delay in bringing the new carriers into service could be sold as being on the basis of capability and flexibility not just expedience.
Then there's the politics. On November 2nd French President Sarkozy meets Prime Minister David Cameron at Portsmouth. Sarkozy is about to order more Rafales, a decision that is causing great scandal in Paris as he's accused of giving a "sweetener" to Serge Dassault to buy Le Parisien newspaper which would then back Sarkozy in the run-ip to the 2012 Presidentail elections. France also has its defence budget problems. It needs a second carrier to augment the small, under powered Charles de Gaulle. Bear in mind that France pitched in a nine figure sum at the design stage of the new UK carriers, so they have good visibility of its technical spec.
How convenient would be the ability for maritime Rafales to hitch a ride on a UK carrier instead? And what a driver for the much-mooted improved Anglo-French defence co-operation.
And again today, US Secretary of State Clinton is reported to be concerned about defence cuts and says "Each country has to be able to make its appropriate contribution." How valuable would it be for Cameron to call Clinton and say "well, we've taken it to heart and we're going to make our carriers more interoperable with yours - and remember that our new strategic tanker aircraft use probe and drogue like the US Navy do, so we can keep backing you up with logistics as we have over Afghanistan so far". Added to which France is in the market for strategic tankers, so some kind of joint force would be another warm fuzzy for Britfrogs to push the way of the cousins.
Last straw in the wind? Recently a dozen UK Forces personnel have been undergoing training on cat and trap operations over in the USA....
To clarify : In the 6 years 2005 - 2010 31 Royal Navy and Royal Air Force personnel underwent training as pilots, landing safety officers or weapons ssytems officers on US carriers. The tempo is picking up : in the 3 years 2011-2013, which of course is right in the middle of the UK carrier build programme, a further 51 will be trained.
In answer to a Parliamentary question, Defence Minister Lord Astor of Hever said : "The current design of the proposed "Queen Elizabeth" class aircraft carriers is also configured for the Short-Takeoff and Vertical Landing aircraft variant of the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA) but this carrier design could be adapted for the operation of catapult-assisted take-off aircraft. If this option is chosen, the training plan would be altered."
In other words, are we already training the trainers?
Jim Murphy MP - Shadow Secretary of State
Kevan Jones MP
Russell Brown MP
Michael Dugher MP
Gemma Doyle MP
Backgrounder on Rt Hon Jim Murphy - Shadow Defence Secretary (Labour)
"Eager beaver clumsy super-loyalist"
43 years old, born in Glasgow. Roman Catholic, married with two songs and a daughter. Moved to South Africa during teenage years and returned to England for higher education at University of Strathclyde.
President of NUS Scotland 1992-1994, then President of NUS 1994-1996 (during university sabbatical, did not return to finish degree). Was member of National Organisation of Labour Students during this time
East Renfrewshire (was Eastwood), Tory safe seat - 3,236 maj. 1997 - 2010
Public Accounts Committee 2000 - 2001
Served as government whip, with responsibilities for Scotland 2002
Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office 2005 - 2006
Minister of State for Employment and Welfare Reform 2006 - 2007
Responsible for employment, welfare reform and child poverty
Minister for Europe 2007 - 2008
Also responsible for Central Asia, NATO and Russia and the UK's Public Diplomacy.
Took the European Union Amendment Bill through Parliament
Labour Minister of the Year 2008 (House Magazine)!
Secretary of State for Scotland 2008 - 2010
Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland 2010
Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 2010
Commons Voting Key Areas
Very Strongly Stricter asylum, Iraq war, foundation hospitals, ID cards, anti-terrorism laws, more EU integration
Strongly Hunting ban, top-up fees
Moderately Replacing trident, smoking ban, transparent Parliament, gay rights, removing hereditary peers
Moderately Against Stopping climate change, autonomy for schools, wholly elected lords
Very Strongly Against Investigation into Iraq war
Parliamentary Questions Key Areas
Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Scotland, Treasury, Defence, Northern Ireland
Afghanistan, Middle East, Aircraft Carriers, Scotland
Honorary Golf club membership for 2009
Ranked 124/647 for expenses. Had no London costs since 05/06, fairly standard costs. Very high office running costs (8th) last year but nothing else.
As the Prime Minister prepard to chair a National Security Council meeting to discuss the options around the Strategic Defence and Security Review Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, the UK's aerospace, defence and security trade
organisation, highlighted the significance of decisions on defence spending
The Government needs to bear in mind that as well as the decision-maker on defence
it is also the customer. Its decisions have a profound impact on our armed forces
and the 300,000 people who work across the UK in the defence industry to support our
troops. The defence budget has been relatively flat with little in the way of
increases over the last 20 years while other Government departments have seen their
budgets double or even triple over the same time period. With our troops constantly
being asked to do more with less, the Government keen to increase exports and
defence able to deliver enhanced returns on investment - a £100m spend yields £227m
in returns - it makes no sense on any level to be cutting investment in defence
because of this knock-on effect on our armed forces and economic recovery. Defence
is 10 per cent of UK manufacturing and Britain is currently number one in Europe and
second only to the US in terms of the global defence exports market but this
position would be under threat if investment is cut, leading to a dearth of new
programmes to export.
Furthermore, the proposals for a greater reliance on high-technology equipment in
the future do not align with the cuts of over 20 per cent in the MoD research and
technology budget over the last three years - that have already cost hundreds of
high-skilled jobs in the industry. This budget, of less than 1.4 per cent of the
total defence budget, must be reprioritised within the MoD to deliver the future
capabilities for our armed forces.
There is of course room for reform within the armed forces, the industry and the
MoD to deliver even greater improvements and we are committed to playing a full part
in these changes that will also deliver savings. But the implications for any
further cuts in defence spending in terms of their impact on our troops, our
national security, our global trading position, our economy and on the long-term
capability of our industry to continue to supply the best possible equipment to our
armed forces cannot be ignored.
The Ministry Of Defence
"The purpose of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces is to defend the United Kingdom, its Overseas Territories, its people and interests, and to act as a force for good by strengthening international peace and security".
Secretary of State for Defence
The Rt Hon John Hutton MP
Has overall responsibility for the business of the Department but specifically leads on:
• Defence Policy and Planning and Budget Issues
• Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan
• Nuclear issues including Ballistic Missile Defence
• Bilateral Defence Relations with North America, Western Europe and the Middle East
• NATO and EU issues
• Media and Communications
Three have been three new Chiefs of Staff appointed at the MoD today.
NEW CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF: AIR MARSHAL S G G DALTON CB BSc FRAeS FCMI RAF
Air Marshal Stephen Dalton joined the RAF after graduating with a 2.1 honours degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Bath University. Subsequently, whilst based in the UK and Germany, he flew the Jaguar on 3 tours in the tactical reconnaissance and ground attack roles. During these tours he flew on exercises in Europe (Norway, Italy, France and Spain), the USA and Canada. On completion of the Advanced Staff Course, Air Marshal Dalton commanded No 13 Squadron flying the Tornado GR1A, during which he was deployed on Operation JURAL flying reconnaissance missions over Iraq; for part of the period he was the Commander British Forces JURAL for Op SOUTHERN WATCH in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
By Paula Jaegar, Research Associate, U K Defence Forum
Why are so few women in the House of Commons actively interested in defence ?
And what difference would it make - to UK defence policy, the Armed Forces, and to their political careers - if they were?
According to Vacher Dod's parliamentary profiles, nine out of 125 female MPs - just over 7% - named defence as a political interest.
Of their 534 male counterparts, 94 (just over 17.5%) did.
One of the first debates when the UK Parliament returned to work this week was a debate on Defence in the Uk - an annual event. A full report can be found HERE
The news that two new UK Defence Ministers are to be unpaid has sent waves of disbelief around the defence establishment.
Quentin Davies MP, the new Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, "crossed the floor" to leave the Conservatives for Labour. He's the first minister for defence procurement to sit in the House of Commons since Labour first won the 1997 General Election. His former colleagues will no doubt have the greatest of sport at his expense, not least for being a "gentleman" rather than a "player". (For our global readers, many years ago unpaid cricketers were known as "gentlemen" while the paid professional were "players")
The voice of Britain's big defence companies, the Defence Industries Council today released public opinion polling data showing that both the UK Armed Forces and the British defence industry that provides them with their equipment are both highly regarded by the public.
This is a subject Defence Viewpoints would like to follow, and we have invited Conservative researchers to contribute their thoughts.
In the mean time, and with the usual strictures about sources, the Guardian newspaper online is creating an updateable document on what is known about Conservative policy pronouncements. Without being perjorative, it's a little thin so far!
Viewpoints sends its support to Corporal Tomos Stringer who had to spend a night sleeping in his car after been turned down for a room at a hotel because he was military personnel.
The MoD is now demanding an explanation to why Corp. Stringer was denied a room at the Metro hotel, Surrey. One Sunday night in June this year he attempted to book a room at the hotel and after showing his military ID he was informed that military staff were 'not welcome.'