Armed Forces (Redundancies)

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 2nd March 2011.

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Photo of Liam Fox Liam Fox The Secretary of State for Defence 12:32 pm, 2nd March 2011

On 19 October last year, in the strategic defence and security review, the Government announced reductions in the size of the armed forces, reducing the Army by 7,000, the RAF by 5,000 and the Navy by 5,000. This was to reshape the armed forces for Future Force 2020 and also to respond to the budgetary pressures resulting from the need to reduce the inherited deficit and deal with the black hole in the Ministry of Defence’s finances.

Following the announcement, normal procedure for proceeding with the redundancies was followed. Let me briefly describe this. The armed forces modelled the manpower that they needed for Future Force 2020 and consulted their own people on the best methods and time scales for achieving that. The families federations have been kept fully informed. Yesterday’s announcements were simply part of that process. Following yesterday’s announcement of the RAF programme, the Army and Navy will follow on 4 April with their programmes. The Army and RAF will give individuals notice that they will be made redundant on 1 September, followed by the Navy on 30 September. The exact timing of further tranches has not yet been decided.

Afghanistan is the Government’s defence main effort. Decisions in the SDSR were therefore weighted towards the protection of capability for the mission in Afghanistan, which, as the Prime Minister has said, will see us transition to full Afghan lead in 2014.

Redundancy is never a painless process, whether in the armed forces or elsewhere, and it is sad to see committed and patriotic men and women lose their jobs. But in that process, it is essential that they are made fully aware of the options available and the time scales involved, which means that a timetable needs to be adhered to, for the sake of themselves and their families. It would simply be wrong to alter that timetable for the convenience of the Government. Personnel were expecting the announcement this week, and to delay it for political expediency would have been to betray their trust. Difficult though it may be, under this Government political convenience will not be the final arbiter of our decisions.

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