Parliamentary and Political Monitoring Report w/c 22 July 2013

By DPF Admin30th July 2013Latest News

According to the Daily Mirror the MOD has wasted £500,000 on ordering surplus ammunition which may never be fired. The newspaper says that four million bullets have been ordered for the war in Afghanistan in 2014, which it says is likely to be “twice as many needed” with the handover of security activities to the Afghans.  Over the course of this year the British presence in Afghanistan is to be reduced by 3,000 troops, however the Mirror says the MOD has failed to tell its general munitions office how the change would affect the ammunition requirement. The MOD has to negotiate with suppliers to sell back excess bullets which become worthless once they pass their sell-by date. The MOD responded that it was better to have “more bullets than not enough” and said any surplus would be used in due course

Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph has reported that HMS Astute and HMS Ambush are the first of seven new nuclear-powered British attack submarines to become operational over the next decade. The Astute class submarines are among the most advanced in the world and can circumnavigate the globe without surfacing. The new boats are replacing the Navy’s Trafalgar class submarines and Rear Admiral Simon Lister has said the new astute class vessels would be the “backbone of the submarine fleet”. Most patrols carried out by the new class of submarine based in Faslane, will be three months long. 

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Government publishes brief on role of the MDP

The Government has published an updated brief on the role of the MDP for general reference. The brief describes the MDP as the dedicated civil police force of around 2,600 officers with full constabulary powers who operate at MOD sites which require police services.

The role of the MDP is split into four key areas of operation:

  • Armed Security
  • Uniformed Policing
  • Crime Investigation
  • Defence Policing Policy

The brief also details that the MDP make a contribution of specialist policing expertise in support of wider defence and foreign policy objectives and describes this contribution as “a force for good in the world and strengthening international peace and security”.

Also mentioned is the enforcement of byelaws. The brief says that MDP officers will make full use of available byelaws to assist in the protection of the MOD estate and legitimate users, dealing robustly with persons contravening the byelaws. The brief also says that MDP officers will use all available means to protect legitimate users of the MOD estate, which it says is paramount.

Answers to written questions

  • Labour Peer Lord West of Spithead asked Her Majesty’s Government how much of the MOD’s underspend since 2010 was spent on defence equipment or running costs.

Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Astor of Hever, said that there was no underspend in the 2010-11 Financial Year and that none of the underspend in 2011-12 was available to be carried into future years. Lord Astor added that in recognition of the MOD’s improving financial management, HM Treasury has granted the Department the freedom to roll all of the underspend from 2012-13 into 2013-14 or 2014-15. Lord Astor said that the MOD has yet to determine precisely the profile of the reallocated funds and will publish details of its spending in the Main and Supplementary Estimates for those years.

  • Lord West asked how much of the MOD’s underspend since 2010 came from the Defence Equipment and Support area.

Lord Astor said that figures for each year are available at Note 2 to the Department’s Annual Report and Accounts for the relevant year, copies of which are available in the Library of the House.

  • Lord West asked whether the MOD’s unallocated provisions came out of the funds available for equipment procurement; and, if so, whether their non-use in 2012-13 represents a funding cut or savings measure on the defence budget.

Lord Astor said the Departmental Unallocated Provision was set aside from the Defence programme before the Annual Budget Cycle, which allocated resources to equipment procurement and running costs. Lord Astor added that because it was not use in the Financial Year 2012-13 represents neither a funding cut nor savings measure, as it is available to carry forward into future years.

Defence Committee announces deterrence in the 21st century inquiry

This week, the Defence Committee has announced a new inquiry into deterrence in the 21st century. The inquiry is the fourth in series of inquiries looking towards the next Defence and Security review.

The inquiry will cover a number of significant strands in which the Committee believe would benefit from further Defence Committee consideration. The Defence Committee states that the context in which deterrence must operate has changed in recent years with the diminution in some former threats and the emergence of new ones. One of the main objectives of this inquiry will be to establish a definition of deterrence and where deterrence as an action is placed on a scale ranging from influence to intervention.

The Committee will also consider the extent to which different threats are deterrable and will also assess the appropriate levels of deterrence for different threats. Included in this will be a consideration of the likely efficacy of nuclear deterrence, deterrence through conventional force, deterrence by protection of potential targets and cyber deterrence. Also scrutinised will be the importance of credibility regarding the sufficiency of the means and intention to deter and the importance of communicating the deterrent message.

The Defence Committee adds that it will look at how the UK Armed Forces currently contribute to deterrence and how this contribution can be improved.  The Committee will also be assessing how deterrence can be expected to change in the future.

Submissions to the inquiry will be accepted until Friday 27th September 2013

Survey shows declining morale in the Army

The BBC has reported on a MOD survey which shows that morale within the Army is declining. An annual survey of attitudes in the armed forces revealed that 30% of army personnel described their morale as low, up from 26% last year. The proportion of those rating their morale as high also dropped for a third consecutive year, falling to 40%. Morale is particularly lower amongst officers than other ranks, which the BBC says can “hardly be good” for the overall mood among troops. The BBC says that of the three armed services, the Army has been hit the hardest by redundancies.

The survey also showed that just 32% of army personnel believe that reservists are well integrated with regular forces, which is markedly lower than the responses from the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force. The BBC comments that it appears regular troops have yet to be convinced that “filling the ranks with part-time soldiers will really work”. However, despite the overall drop in morale, figures for the three services combined showed 49% were satisfied with forces life in general, while 28% said they were dissatisfied.

Shadow armed forces minister Kevan Jones MP told the BBC “A record of redundancies, cuts to equipment and slashed allowances means our forces feel under-valued and under-powered.” Mr Jones highlighted that a “failed economic strategy” had led to repeated cuts to the services which has harmed the UK’s standing in the world.

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