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Parliamentary Report w/c 03rd March

Published: 12/03/2014

The Defence Secretary Philip Hammond MP has announced that HMS Vanguard will need to be fitted with a new reactor core due to the discovery of low levels of radioactivity in its reactor cooling waters. Philip Hammond told the House of Commons that no leak had occurred and there were no safety implications for staff working on site. However, he said the new core will come at a cost of £120 million. Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker said the Government should have told the Commons earlier about the fault and the Times reports that the Scottish Government has reacted angrily at not being alerted to the leak two years ago, which occurred while the submarine was stationed in Caithness.

Contents

  • Answers to written questions
  • Home Affairs Committee announces new inquiry into Reform of the Police Federation
  • CNC officers win tribunal case after admitting they were too old to carry firearms
  • Defence Select Committee questions Army 2020 plan

Answers to written questions

  • Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker asked the Defence Secretary what the future arrangements for the MOD guards services are; and if he will make a statement.

Defence Minister Anna Soubry said the MGS is completing the transition to its new tasks, and recently advertised for new recruits to fill vacancies on the sites where it will continue to be the security provider.

  • Shadow Defence Minister Alison Seabeck asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to reach agreement with the MOD on changes to civil service pay and conditions as part of the DE&S plus model for defence procurement; and if he will publish the details of such an arrangement.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said details on the new Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisational structure are planned to be published in April. He said that further details on pay and conditions will be released in due course.

CNC officers win tribunal case after admitting they were too old to carry firearms

The Metro has reported that police officers from the Civil Nuclear Constabulary have won damages because senior officers refused to listen to admissions that they were too old and too unfit to carry out their job to the required standard. The five officers who took tribunal action were dismissed from their jobs guarding a nuclear site after saying they should not be expected to carry arms. The officers, based at Capenhurst, complained that they were neither physically nor psychologically able to cope with the demands of firing weapons or wearing body armour.

We [DPF] have received several enquiries from members seeking advice about the recent media attention regarding CNC officers - it was reported that five CNC officers recently won their case at an Employment Tribunal (ET) as they were no longer able to carry firearms.

Before DPF can provide informed advice to members we must obtain a copy of the full judgement (only a verbal judgement was given) and await the subsequent advice from our legal advisers. It is therefore suggested that you take no action until the written judgement is received (expected to take 8-10 weeks) when a further circular will be issued.

Home Affairs Committee announces new inquiry into Reform of the Police Federation

The Home Affairs Committee has announced a new inquiry into the Reform of the Police Federation. The inquiry will consider:

  • The extent to which the current structure of the Federation enables it to represent the interests of its members effectively.
  • Whether its financial governance arrangements provide sufficient assurance to members and stakeholders that the Federation’s expenditure is value for money.
  • How the Federation might adapt to better meet current challenges, including the introduction of the new landscape of policing and the impact of changes to members’ pay, pension and terms and conditions of employment.

The Chair of the Home Affairs Committee Keith Vaz said that the Federation had seen a 23% increase in membership in a time of austerity but warned that the evidence showed large number of officers feel let down by the Federation. He said that that the Committee will be considering what the Federation needs to do to re-connect with its members and to focus on its core purpose in the context of the new landscape of policing. Mr Vaz said that the Committee also wants to see how the Federation proposes to implement the recommendations of the Normington review.

Defence Select Committee questions Army 2020 plan

The Defence Select Committee have published a report that questions the Government’s Army 2020 plan, which is underpinned by the decision to cut 20,000 regular soldiers and double the Army Reserve to 30,000. The MPs say that the Government’s plans to restructure the army and save money may impact on national security and it has demanded that the Government provide an assessment of how the plan will affect current and future “fighting power”. The Committee also criticised the way the plan was drawn up, highlighting the lack of proper scrutiny before implementation and saying it had “considerable doubts” about how the plan was developed and tested.

The report warns that threats to the UK are “uncertain and ever changing” and urged the Army to draw up a contingency plan for “unforeseen circumstances”. It also emphasises that it was essential for the UK to maintain an ability to carry out expeditionary operations at short notice “despite the current lack of public appetite”.

The Times highlights that the report comes as latest personnel figures show that the Army, Royal Navy and RAF are almost 8,000 short of required numbers at the start of 2014.  Philip Hammond, Defence Secretary has responded to the report by saying that the Army 2020 structure is not simply about a reduction in size and emphasized that it would ensure the Army uses a “better mix of regulars, reserves and contractors”.

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