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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

20 May 10. General Election: Coalition Agreement. The leaders of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Parties, as Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, published (20 May 10) The Coalition: Our Programme for Government. Sub-titled Freedom, Fairness, Responsibility the document is divided into 31 Sections, covering a similar number of pages. The joint Foreword includes: “We are agreed that the first duty of Government is to safeguard our national security and support our troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere – and we will fulfil that duty.”
The Section on Defence reiterates the commitment to a nuclear deterrent while aiming to reduce MoD running costs by at least 25%. The Military Covenant is to be rebuilt and the Operational Allowance for those in Afghanistan doubled.
Comment: It has been said that the three main military motivations are meals, money and medals and the Agreement addresses the second and third. Pay is to be reviewed, as are the rules for the awarding of medals.
The MoD confirmed (20 May 10) the four Ministerial appointments recorded in DNA 10/19, adding that the full titles and responsibilities of each Minister will be published “in due course”. Appointments from the House of Lords are still awaited. It has thus not yet been possible to list the new Defence Council. It is understood that Ministerial responsibilities are being realigned. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 09/20, 24 May 09)

17 May 10. Public Finances: Chancellor’s Policies. The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced (17 May 10) that:-
* Sir Alan Budd is to chair a new Office for Budget Responsibility, tasked with assessing the state of
the public finances.
* Cabinet members are to agree £6,000m in cuts from the current year’s spending, as a start to tackling the UK’s £163,000m deficit.
* All spending approvals made since 1 Jan 10 are being re-examined, to ensure good value for money.
Departmental contributions to the £6,000m for the current year are to be announced on 24 May 10.
Comment: Equipment announcements, which may be under revised scrutiny, were listed in DNA 09/48, 10/13 and 10/14. Other decisions since 1 Jan 10 include: Defence Training Review, Package 1 (7 Jan 10); MARS – RFA Tankers (17 Jan 10); Search & Rescue Helicopters (9 Feb 10) and the A400M Agreement (5 Mar 10).
Before the 1997 General Election, which the Conservatives knew they were going to lose, the Defence equipment programme was ‘loaded’. Three Astute Class SSN, for instance, were ordered 44 days before the Election. The wheel now looks as though it has turned full circle! (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 09/20, 24 May 09)
May 10. Parliament: Emergency Budget. The Chancellor of the Exchequer is to present an Emergency Budget on Tue 22 Jun 10. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 09/20, 24 May 09)

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