During the past month, the Defence Police Federation has organised and hosted a reception in the Palace of Westminster that was sponsored by Defence Select Committee member Madeleine Moon MP.
Further details regarding the reception are listed below, but the event was highly successful as a means of highlighting the work of both the Federation and the MDP to parliamentarians in advance of the Strategic Defence and Security Review that is to be published in the autumn. It was also attended by Defence Minister Mark Lancaster, amongst a host of other ministers, parliamentarians and defence commentators.
Discussion on defence policy during the past month has focused on Government commitments to meet the NATO target of spending two percent of GDP on defence. The announcement, made by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne during his post-election Budget, has been subject to substantial scrutiny in the media and by defence experts. Of particular concern is how the Government will reach the required level of spending, with ministers subsequently confirming that their calculations will include spending on intelligence agencies such as GCHQ.
Newly elected Defence Select Committee Chairman Dr Julian Lewis MP has criticised the announcement as being disingenuous and a matter of concern for all those interested in defence policy. The highly respected Royal United Services Institute has echoed similar concerns. The Chancellor’s announcement and the subsequent commentary has set the scene for highly charged publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review later in the year, for which the Government can expect substantial scrutiny.
Outside of the announcements on defence spending, the Ministry of Defence Police has attracted attention in Scotland after new figures reported more than 50 officers had transferred to the MDP from Police Scotland in the past year. The figures, which were reported in the Daily Record, have been described as an influx of transferees from the Scottish Police Force.
The news has also been occupied by the Labour Party’s ongoing leadership contest, which will determine the Party’s new leader at its annual conference in September. Veteran MP and left-winger Jeremy Corbyn has appeared to take a significant, if very surprising, lead in the race in recent weeks. Mr Corbyn is known to be a pacifist and firmly opposed to the nuclear deterrent.
The political approach
As noted above, the focus of the DPF’s activity during the past month has been the organised and hosting of a reception in Parliament as a means of introducing the Federation and the MDP to the dozens of new MPs elected in May, and reminding longstanding parliamentarians of the important role played by the MDP.
The event was a significant success, with approximately 30 members of the House of Commons and House of Lords attending, including Defence Minister Mark Lancaster MP, Police Minister Mike Penning MP, and Shadow Defence Minister Vernon Coaker MP. We are extremely grateful to Madeleine Moon MP for sponsoring and speaking at the event, which also provided an opportunity for DPF representatives to brief the Minister (Mark Lancaster) in detail on issues including TACOS and security ahead of the SDSR.
We have separately met with Conservative MP Jack Lopresti, a backbencher with substantial defence policy knowledge and interests. Mr Lopresti is likely to be amongst the most vocal parliamentarians following the publication of the SDSR, and the meeting served as a useful opportunity to brief him on the importance of the MDP.
With Parliament now in recess for the summer, the Federation is preparing to re-engage MPs and Members of the House of Lords on their return to Westminster. This will form a programme of continual and concerted dialogue with parliamentarians to ensure the role of the MDP is fully understood and that highlighted to Ministers as part of the SDSR process.
During the past month the Federation has continued to brief journalists from both the national and more specialist defence and policing publications.
The Federation’s parliamentary reception was reported twice in Police Oracle, with one of its journalists (who attended the event) noting comments made by both National Chairman Eamon Keating and Madeleine Moon MP on the role of the MDP. These articles can be accessed via the following link by those members registered with the Police Oracle website:
We will be following up on these articles in Police Oracle with the submission of a comment article by National Chairman Eamon Keating. We will also be continuing to brief journalists from the national media in advance of the SDSR.
We would like to thank all members who contacted their MP to encourage attendance at the DPF parliamentary reception in July. This was a significant contributor to the levels of attendance amongst MPs and peers.
We would also like to remind any member wishing to contact their local MP that their correspondence is subject to MDP regulations.