The House of Commons rose for the Christmas recess on 19 December and the House of Lords rose on 18 December. Both Houses of Parliament will return from recess on 6 January 2014.
The Defence Secretary has announced £79 million of investment in the next generation of Royal Navy submarines. The Successor Class of submarines will carry the UK’s strategic nuclear deterrent and will be the most advanced boats operated by the Navy. Two contracts worth £47 million and £32 million have been awarded to BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines who are leading on the design of the vessels. The Successor class is due to replace the Vanguard Class from 2028 and are planned to see operation service up until the 2060s.
Several media sources have reported on alleged misconduct by several MDP officers stationed at the Nuclear Weapons Establishment at Burghfield. The case has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission which is expected to investigate in the New Year. The Basingstoke Gazette reports that the Nuclear Information Service has sent a letter to Steve Love raising concerns over the matter.
Answers to written questions on police federation and the defence estate
- Conservative MP David Davis asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department:
- if she will publish the accounts of the Police Federation from 2003 to 2013.
- whether the police officers are required to be members of the Police Federation.
- whether the Police Federation is funded by her department.
- whether police officers acting as an officer of the Police Federation are given paid time off to undertake their duties as Federation officers.
Policing Minister Damian Green said the Police Federation is an independent organisation. He added that its accounts are made and audited independently of the Home Office and Government Ministers.
Mr Green said that under the Police Regulation 1969, every police officer below the rank of superintendent is required to be a member of the Police Federation, however, officers may elect not to pay subscription fees.
Mr Green said that the Home Office provides funding to the Police Federation to subsidise the salaries of the chairman, general secretary and treasurer and to fund the travel and subsistence expenses for those officers to attend statutory meetings set out in the Police Regulations 2003.
The Home Office also provides funding to the Police Federation on behalf of the staff side of the Police Negotiating Board which is used for attendance of Federation representatives and other members of the staff side at Police Negotiating Board meetings.
Mr Green said that under Regulation 23 of the Police Regulations 2003, Police Federation Representatives attendance at specified formal meetings can take place during paid duty time. Aside from the meetings specified in Regulation 23, it is for each force to agree arrangements with the local branch of the Police Federation for how much paid duty time can be used to carry out Police Federation activities.
- Labour MP Emma Lewell-Buck asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made on rationalising the defence estate.
Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison MP said that the MOD is continuing to make good progress on rationalising the Defence estate. He said that in the financial year 2012-13 the MOD sold estate worth £139 million that was surplus to Defence requirements.
Dr Murrison said the MOD has an ongoing programme to develop its footprint strategy, which will drive further rationalisation of the Defence estate. Phase one – the Army Basing Plan – was announced in March and work is continuing on Phase two which seeks further optimisation of the Defence estate.
Defence Chief says Britain is losing its “courageous instinct”
According to the Financial Times, Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Nicholas Houghton has warned that Britain is losing its “courageous instinct” on the international stage in what could become a “most damaging” threat to the armed forces. In a speech to the Royal United Services Institute he said he feared that the UK was at risk from stepping back from its responsibilities and needs – on the world stage. General Houghton said that there was “a creeping aversion to risk” among politicians, the public and armed forces, in what the FT described in what the FT described as a “thinly veiled reference” to the UK’s narrow decision against intervention in Syria and the ongoing withdrawal from Afghanistan. General Houghton went on to advocate that the UK adopt a “strategic posture of engagement”.
He also expressed concern over cutbacks in the number of soldiers in the regular armed forces. The military risked suffering from a “critical deficiency” in its capabilities as the cuts to troop numbers began to hit home over the next few years. General Houghton said there was exquisite equipment, but “insufficient resources to man that equipment or train on it”. He said that out of all service arms, the Royal Navy was facing the greatest challenge.