The House of Lords remains on recess this week and will not return until the 8th October, meanwhile the House of Commons also remains on recess and will not return until the 2nd September.
Liberal Democrats criticise reservist policy
In a policy document entitled Defending the Future, the Liberal Democrat party has warned that the UK is taking an “unacceptable risk” by relying on reservists to make up for the reduction in full-time soldiers. The Liberal Democrats have raised significant doubts about the ability of the MOD to expand the Army Reserve from 19,000 to 30,000 soldiers and warn that it is “unrealistic” to expect reserves to be ready to serve on the front line, despite enhanced training. A recurring concern of the party is the ongoing reduction of regular Army personnel before increased recruitment for the Army Reserve has been completed.
Whilst the policy document offers no alternatives to current government policy on the Army Reserve, it does say that the Liberal Democrats are supportive of the plans to increase spending on the Reserves and the optimisation of their potential. However, the Daily Telegraph has described the policy concerns as a “coalition split” and a Conservative source told the newspaper that the comments regarding reservist capability were “an insult” to reservists and criticised the Liberal Democrat party for taking very little interest in the Armed Forces.
The party’s warnings over the expansion of the Army Reserve follows defence chiefs raising concerns that the target of 30,000 deployable reservists will not be achieved. The policy document also says that whilst in the past there was little chance of the reserve forces being mobilised, the chances of reservists being called in active service “are now quite high”. However, Conservative defence minister Andrew Murrison MP said the increased size and role of the reserve forces follows recommendations of an independent commission and is in line with the practice of UK allies.