This week Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne made his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons, setting out a range of economic measures and reporting on government spending. While announcements related to stamp duty and new funding for NHS were amongst the headlines of the statement, the Chancellor also admitted to missing targets to reduce government borrowing. Consequently austerity is now likely to extend for a further five years. With a number of government departments, including Health and International Development likely to continue having their budgets ring-fenced, other departments including the MoD are likely to be expected to make further substantial budget cuts in the next parliament.
It was also announced this week that Cressida Dick, the Metropolitan Police’s Assistant Commissioner UK’s most senior female police officer, is to leave the Metropolitan Police after 31 years’ service. The Foreign Office has announced that she is to join its ranks as a director-general, but has declined to comment on her specific new responsibilities.
· DPF Chairman makes case for fairer pensions
· Whitehall waste includes £6m spent on earplugs
· Armed Forces Covenant defended
· New Korean War memorial revealed
· Inquest into Deepcut barracks death may exhume body
· New American Defence Secretary rumoured
· Leading Army official calls for Christianity to be dropped as main religion
DPF Chairman makes case for fairer pensions
Defence Police Federation Chairman Eamon Keating has called for action on Ministry of Defence Police pensions in a comment article for Police Oracle. The article outlined the Federation’s engagement with the MoD on the pensions issue, calling for urgent action from Ministers ahead of the switch to the new Civil Service Pensions Scheme in April 2015. The article also outlined the compromise put forward by the Defence Police Federation.
Whitehall waste includes £6m spent on earplugs
The Sun has reported that the Ministry of Defence spent £6m on 10,000 earplugs for troops which were later deemed redundant as they could not be used in operational combat. The story was reported following the publication of the MoD’s annual accounts by the National Audit Office. The state of the art headphones were supposed to allow soldiers to hear each other and their communication devices whilst blocking out battleground noise. A total of £860m was spent on obsolete equipment which included a £7m mine detection system for armoured vehicles which was later deemed ‘unsuitable’. Reacting to the news, Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker said that the troop numbers were being cut dramatically while “money was frittered away on dud equipment.”
Armed Forces Covenant defended
Following its Christmas campaign to help homeless veterans, The Independent has featured an article calling for more to be done to honour the Armed Forces Covenant. The article said that more should be done to help troops deal with mental injuries including post-traumatic stress disorder and that the Government should introduce the best facilities possible. In response the Ministry of Defence noted that support for veterans was paramount, which had lead it to enshrine the Armed Forces Covenant in law in 2011.
New Korean War memorial unveiled
Veterans from the Korean War gathered to attend the unveiling of a memorial in London for those who had died in the conflict, as reported in The Guardian. A total of 320 veterans were present for the occasion, marking more than six decades since the war, which cost a total of 1,106 British lives. The £1m memorial was paid for by the South Korean Government along with South Korean companies operating in the UK.
Inquest into Deepcut barracks death may exhume body
ITV has reported that the body of a teenage solider died from a gunshot in Deepcut barracks could be exhumed 19 years after she was buried as part of an inquest into the suspicious circumstances surrounding her death. Private Cheryl James died aged eighteen in what was initially thought to be a suicide but a review suggested there may be evidence to show that it was not the case. Three other teenagers died at the same time and this will be the second inquest into their deaths.
New American Defence Secretary rumoured
The BBC has reported that Barak Obama is due to nominate a former high ranking Pentagon official, Ashton Carter, as the new Defence Secretary. Mr Carter would replace Chuck Hagel who resigned from position last month. He has previously worked as in arms procurement for the Pentagon, having previously received a doctorate in theoretical physics from Oxford University.
Leading Army official calls for Christianity to be dropped as main religion
A senior British Army official has called for Christianity to be dropped as the army’s main religion, replacing traditional priests with moral counsellors, as reported in the Daily Mirror. Lieutenant Colonel Laurence Quinn said that troops should be able to practice their religion but that Christianity should be separated from the Army’s operational activities, potentially being insensitive to other troops with different religions.