11 Feb 11. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO): Committee Report. The Foreign Affairs Committee published (11 Feb 11) a Report entitled FCO Performance and Finances. The Report focuses on the FCO’s financial situation and the implications of the Spending Review 2010 on its work and performance. The Report also covers the British Council (but not the BBC World Service, which is to be the subject of a separate Report).
Comment: The Report concludes that the FCO is one of the major Departmental losers in the Spending Review, particularly when compared with the MoD and DfID. The Report is published, as HC 572, for £15:50.
08 Feb 11. National Defence Medal: Commons’ Debate. The House of Commons debated (8 Feb 11) the grant of a National Defence Medal, to be awarded “to the thousands upon thousands of former soldiers, sailors and air force personnel who have served their nation but have nothing to show for it”. The point was made that such a medal is awarded to the Australian and New Zealand Armed Forces. In response, the Personnel Minister said that the Government is “considering carefully the case for a National Defence Medal”.
Comment: Nothing raises the temperature more among Service personnel than the award of ‘gongs’ (except, possibly, money and meals). While the grant of campaign medals is invariably fair and reasonable, the distribution of commemorative medals in the present Queen’s reign has been little short of chaotic. The chance of a National Defence Medal being awarded in the UK is zero (and would cost an estimated £300m, apparently). The debate is recorded in Hansard for 8 Feb 11, starting in Column 50 WH. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 11/07, 14 Feb 11)
10 Feb 11. NATO: Lords’ Debate. The House of Lords debated (10 Feb 11) “the future of NATO and changing relations within its membership”. Introducing the debate, Lord Addington drew attention to NATO’s “11 fixed military headquarters and 14 agencies with overlapping responsibilities manned by 13,000 military Officers with 300 military committees”.
Comment: As might be expected, the debate was informative and of a high standard. Of particular interest was the maiden speech from Lord Stirrup, recently retired as Chief of the Defence Staff. The debate starts in Hansard, Column 394 and Lord Stirrup’s speech is recorded in Column 406 et seq. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 11/07, 14 Feb 11)
Feb 11. BBC World Service: Committee Evidence Session. The Foreign Affairs Committee is to meet at 14.30hrs on 9 Mar 11 in Portcullis House in order to take evidence on the Implications of the BBC World Service Cuts. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 11/07, 14 Feb 11)
House of Commons Hansard Debates for 15 Feb 2011
House of Commons
Tuesday 15 February 2011
Armed Forces (Redundancies)
Mr Jim Murphy (East Renfrewshire) (Lab) (Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State to make a statement on redundancies in the Ministry of Defence. The Secretary of State for Defence (Dr Liam Fox): As a result of the strategic defence and security review and the comprehensive spending review, it has, sadly, been necessary to plan for redundancies in both the civil service and the armed forces. At all times this should be done with sensitivity to individuals concerned, and with an understanding of the impact that it will have on them and their families. There are two recent cases in which this has not happened. Let me deal with them both. First, there are the 38 Army personnel who have received an e-mail, as reported in today’s press. This is a completely unacceptable way to treat anyone, not least our armed forces. The correct procedure was not followed. I regret this, and want to reiterate the unreserved apology already made by the Army and on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. Arrangements have already been put in place to ensure that it does not happen again, and the Army are already investigating the particular circumstances. Secondly, the