Qioptiq logo Oshkosh banner

PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

House of Commons and House of Lords Hansard Written Answers

Q

Asked by John Healey

(Wentworth and Dearne)

Asked on: 13 May 2020

Ministry of Defence

Global Navigation Satellite Systems

46551

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the defence implications of a satellite navigation system for the UK.

A

Answered by: James Heappey

Answered on: 20 May 2020

UK Armed Forces rely upon accurate Positioning, Navigation and Timing information for a variety of critical applications. We have privileged access to US GPS, the world’s foremost GNSS system. The Ministry of Defence is committed to a systems-of-systems approach to managing PNT vulnerabilities; we are working across Government, including the UK Space Agency, to develop options for UK Assured PNT to maximise return on investment and meet Critical National Infrastructure requirements.

Q

Asked by Sir John Hayes

(South Holland and The Deepings)

Asked on: 13 May 2020

Ministry of Defence

Armed Forces: Recruitment

46535

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps his Department is taking to (a) recruit and (b) retain armed forces personnel.

A

Answered by: James Heappey

Answered on: 20 May 2020

We remain committed to maintaining the overall size of the Armed Forces.

Importantly, the Services continue to meet all operational commitments, keeping the country and its interests safe. The Armed Forces are fully funded to meet their target strength and we continue to increase funding year on year.

There are a range of measures under way to improve recruitment and retention, and these are kept under constant review. These include the following:

Recruitment

All three Services are closely focused on recruiting processes to ensure they are converting high levels of interest into trained strength, maximising the potential of all applicants.

The Royal Navy and Royal Marines operate a Personnel Recovery Programme which includes initiatives to improve inflow (gains to trained strength), throughflow (promotions) and outflow (reducing voluntary resignations).

The Army Confidence 2020 campaign follows the highly successful 2019 ‘Your Army Needs You’ campaign, which focused on seeing beyond stereotypes to spot young people’s potential. The campaign has begun well and is directly comparable to last year’s iteration which delivered the highest number of applications since 2014. Army Reserve recruitment is improving and performing strongly, with an increase of 29.5% in the last calendar year.

The Royal Air Force established Enterprise Collaboration Teams to oversee critical skills groups and deliver a range of recruitment initiatives. Specialist Recruitment Teams have also been created for hard to recruit branches and trades, Black Asian and Minority Ethnicity (BAME) and female personnel. A major programme to encourage re-joiners is also underway.

Retention

We have increased the attractiveness of our offer to Service personnel by securing a pay rise of 2.9% for all up to 1-star rank. Financial Retention Incentives are also being used to improve retention in certain priority areas.

The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) is now being trialled at scale in selected sites. FAM is intended to give Service personnel greater choice over their housing options to better suit their lifestyles and preferences.

Flexible Service introduces the potential for Service personnel to alter their career commitment for set periods of time. This should see more people staying in the Armed Forces who may otherwise have decided to leave in order to meet competing demands on their time, such as caring or parental responsibilities.

Our People Concept Development project involves collaborating with industry to tackle the critical skills challenge and explore new ways to access the skilled people we need. By looking at demand across the public and private sector, finding ways to share skills and make it easier for people to move around different elements of Defence, we aim to increase retention of skilled people.

Q

Asked by Dr Julian Lewis

(New Forest East)

[N]

Asked on: 15 May 2020

Ministry of Defence

Sentinel Aircraft

47167

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, in which (a) conventional and (b) counterinsurgency campaigns Sentinel aircraft have seen action since their entry into service; what the original design life of each Sentinel aircraft is, and by how much this can practicably be increased by a life extension project; whether the UK possesses alternative systems that can provide (i) strategic and (ii) tactical surveillance coverage over land equivalent to that currently provided by Sentinel; and how future land campaigns will adequately be conducted if a capability gap is created by the retirement of the Sentinel fleet.

A

Answered by: Jeremy Quin

Answered on: 20 May 2020

The Ministry of Defence has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Q

Asked by Jonathan Edwards

(Carmarthen East and Dinefwr)

[N]

Asked on: 15 May 2020

Ministry of Defence

Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft

47244

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the suitability of the F-35 Lightening II for long periods of supersonic flight.

A

Answered by: Jeremy Quin

Answered on: 20 May 2020

When required, the Lightning can cruise at supersonic speed for long periods. However operationally, like most modern combat fast jets, supersonic speeds would only be used in limited tactical situations and would only be required for short bursts; the vast majority of its tactical employment is predicated around subsonic operating speeds. As a result, it is highly unlikely that Lightning would need to be routinely flown at supersonic speed for sustained periods.

Q

Asked by Bill Esterson

(Sefton Central)

[N]

Asked on: 11 May 2020

Department for International Trade

Trade Agreements: USA

45158

To ask the Secretary of State for International Trade, whether it is her policy to include the cancellation of section 232 tariffs as a condition for an international trade agreement with the United States.

A

Answered by: Greg Hands

Answered on: 19 May 2020

The UK has consistently opposed US section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminium. The UK is a close national security ally of the US and our steel and aluminium products are important for US businesses and defence, and we continue to reject any claim that they harm US national security.

The Government published its strategic and outline approach to negotiations with the United States for a UK-US Free Trade Agreement on 2 March. As set out in that paper, we will be pressing the US for the swift removal of these unjustified tariffs.

Q

Asked by Lord Hylton

Asked on: 05 May 2020

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Armed Conflict

HL4023

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of any progress towards a truce from Yemen, Libya and North and South Sudan; and what steps they are taking to promote a renunciation of the use of force by all states and other militant entities

A

Answered by: Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon

Answered on: 18 May 2020

We continue to work closely with international partners towards peace in Yemen, Libya, Sudan and South Sudan, amongst other countries in conflict.

We fully support the efforts of the UN Secretary-General and the UN Special Envoy’s call for all parties to engage in urgent political talks and de-escalate the conflict in Yemen. Now that Saudi Arabia have extended their unilateral ceasefire it is more important than ever that all parties seize this opportunity for progress in Yemen. A permanent ceasefire and co-operation with the UN-led political process is the best defence we have against a potentially devastating outbreak of COVID-19.

We are also deeply concerned by the continuing fighting in Libya. All the signs are that, despite calls for a humanitarian truce, hostilities are continuing on all sides. UK leadership helped secure UN Security Council Resolution 2510, which demands full compliance with the UN arms embargo and an end to foreign military interference in Libya. We continue to urge all parties to agree a ceasefire and return to UN-led political talks, which is the only means of achieving the peace and stability that most Libyans crave.

We welcome recent progress made in both Sudan and South Sudan towards resolving their long-running conflicts. Through our membership of the Troika, we have engaged their governments and international partners to support their respective peace processes. At the UN Security Council on 28 April, the UK urged both governments to continue to focus on building sustainable peace. In South Sudan, conflict between the parties to the September 2018 Peace Agreement has reduced. In February this year, the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity marked a significant step forward in implementing the deal, bringing opposition leaders into the government. Although implementation of the Peace Agreement has slowed since the COVID-19 outbreak, we continue to urge all sides to ensure momentum is maintained. The Minister for Africa reiterated this point with 1st Vice President Machar on 29 April.

On Sudan, the UK supports Prime Minister Hamdok’s commitment to secure a sustainable peace agreement to end conflicts in the county. We welcome initial progress in peace negotiations and agreement of a cessation of hostilities. We continued to urge all sides to engage constructively and swiftly to reach a comprehensive and inclusive peace agreement; at the UN Security Council on 24 April we urged all Sudanese stakeholders to remain fully committed in the efforts to achieve lasting peace.

Q

Asked by Dr Julian Lewis

(New Forest East)

[N]

Asked on: 12 May 2020

Ministry of Defence

Armed Forces: Coronavirus

45949

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment he has made of the effect of the covid-19 pandemic on the preparedness of UK (a) nuclear and (b) conventional forces to deter and respond respectively to military threats and aggressive behaviour; and whether an increase in (i) disinformation campaigns and (ii) aggressive behaviour by (A) Russia, (B) China, (C) Iran and (D) North Korea has been observed since the onset of the pandemic.

A

Answered by: James Heappey

Answered on: 18 May 2020

It is taking longer than expected to respond to the hon. Member’s question, therefore I will write to him shortly.

Back to article list