Parliamentary and Political Monitoring Report Feb 2019

By DPF Admin19th February 2019Uncategorised

Overview 

·      UK police ‘overwhelmed by explosion of violence’

·      MoD fails to control spending

·      Defence Secretary says Brexit will ‘enhance UK’s lethality’

·     MoD assets championed this month

MDP in the news this month

·      MP asks about MDP costs at RAF Menwith Hill

UK police ‘overwhelmed by explosion of violence’

New crime figures have been published showing violent offences to have increased by 19% overall and murder and manslaughter rates to be at their highest in 12 years. Murder rates increase 14% on the year, knife crime offences increased by 8% to be at their highest since 2011, robberies are up 17% and sex offences by 14%. This has cumulatively resulted in an increase of 15% in hospital admissions from stabbings. 

These figures were published alongside the Police Workforce Statistics which show a slight increase in the number of officers in the force of 0.4%, meaning there are now 122,395 officers across the 43 forces. 

Police Federation Chair John Apter responded to the figures saying, “Society just isn’t as safe as it once was, and although the police service is doing everything within its power, we are swimming against the tide and it is the public who are being let down.” His comments were supported by Labour MP and Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Yvette Cooper, who said: “These new figures show a further steep rise in serious violent crimes, at the same time as the number of suspects being charged is falling.”

MoD fails to control spending

Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee has published a report about the Defence Equipment Plan 2018-28 criticizing the MoD’s financial performance. The Committee called defence chief failure to close a multi-billion-pound funding gap despite an injection in cash from the Treasury ‘woeful’ and tantamount to ‘failing taxpayers’. It estimates an affordability gap of £7bn in the plan across over the next decade, which could even soar to nearly £15bn.

Committee Chair Meg Hillier MP said: “The MoD simply cannot afford everything it says it needs and it is not acceptable for officials to continue deferring decisions that have a bearing on its current affordability gap and longer-term risks.” However, Lord Dannatt, former chief of the defence staff, attributed the blackhole to the department’s underfunding of defence. He told the Today programme “You can’t have a nation’s defence like ours on the cheap”.

Defence Secretary says Brexit will ‘enhance UK’s lethality’

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson gave a speech to defence think tank RUSI outlining the future direction of the Armed Forces, in which he said that the UK needed to use ‘hard power’ and increase the ‘mass and lethality’ of the Armed Forces in order to stand up to adverse international powers. He said that Brexit can enhance the UK’s lethality. The price of non-intervention in the past has been “unacceptably high”, he warned, and Western powers like the UK could not afford to “walk on by when others are in need”.

Calling on the Armed Forces to “embrace transformation,” he said that drone squadrons would be deployed by the military despite having previously implied that ferries would be used as warships by the MoD. 

MoD assets championed this month

The MoD has opened its first military airbase to be powered by green energy, RAF Marham, which is the home of the UK’s F-35 multi role combat jets. All electricity to the base will come from green sources.

The MoD has injected £1 million into pioneering new space technology in the form of a new generation of British deployable satellite antennas, which will make the UK the first European country with the capability of a flight-proven parabolic deployable antenna. 

RAF Tornados have been taken out of service after nearly 40 years in action. They first entered service in 1979 and have been used across the world until they came home to RAF Marham for the last time at the beginning of February. 

MDP in the news this month

MP asks about MDP costs at RAF Menwith Hill

Labour MP for Leeds North West Alex Sobel has tabled another written parliamentary question to the MoD about the MDP, this time asking how much the US Government has paid for the MDP at RAF Menwith Hill in the past year. Defence Minister with responsibility for the MDP, Tobias Ellwood, withheld the information on the grounds of “safeguarding national security”. The DPF will reach out to Mr Sobel to introduce the Federation and establish a relationship. 

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