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  MS7 - Strategic Defence Review
Posted by: Kandler - 10-30-2019, 08:18 PM - Forum: Ministerial Statements - No Replies

Madam Speaker,

I am pleased to confirm to the House that the Strategic Defence Review authorised by this Government has now been conducted and completed, in close consultation with military officials, experts at the Ministry of Defence and indeed around the world, and through a close and effective assessment of Britain's future strategic defence needs.

The aim of the Review was to identify Britain's strategic defence needs over a long-term timescale, and it is important to see the Review in the context of defence spending broadly over the past 16 years and beyond.

Madam Speaker, the Options for Change review in 1990 saw the amalgamation of 12 infantry regiments into five, the loss of seven battalions from further regiments, the amalgamation of 14 Royal Armoured Corps regiments into seven and the amalgamation of 15 service regiments into three. The number of Royal Air Force bases in Germany has been halved since 1993, and F-4 Phantom II squadrons withdrawn. The Brimstone missile project has been cancelled and the number of Nimrod patrols reduced; the number of serviceable frigates and destroyers has been reduced by a fifth, and overall manpower in the armed forces has been reduced by 18% over five years. Defence spending, according to current trends, will fall to 2.4% of gross national income by 1997, compared to a figure of 5% ten years ago.

Just last year, contracts were signed to sell three class 22 frigates, and Britain's three surviving aircraft carriers are approaching the end of their serviceable lives. Recommendations have already been made that the Trident nuclear weapons system not be deployed fully, and extensive cutbacks have been made to personnel at the Ministry of Defence.

Madam Speaker, the proximate trigger for these large-scale cutbacks was the fall of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, heralding - we expected - a period of unprecedented peace as for the first time in a half-century the world found itself free from the spectre of apocalypse. Increasingly, conventional warfare appears to be in decline as smaller-scale, asymetrical conflicts are followed by the gaze of the western powers. Already, we are moving rapidly towards a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing. Relations with the former Soviet bloc are strong and improving; the European Union, whose project of ever-closer union and integration has made war between continental powers all but impossible, stands as a beacon of world peace in difficult times. Britain's relationship with anglosphere countries, authenticated by the ongoing war games in the Pacific Ocean in which Britain, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States are all playing a part, grows ever more strong and overwhelming. In short, for the short-termists and the deficit hawks of the Treasury, defence represents an area of government spending ripe for the cull.

But the findings of the Strategic Defence Review are clear. Our base assumption has always been that the United Kingdom should maintain the ability to respond to up to two major international crises at any one time, with concurrent military efforts and combat deployments on the scale of Operation Granby during the Gulf War. Britain should also be capable of undertaking a more extended overseas deployment on a lesser scale for humanitarian, peacekeeping or pacification purposes, and, above all, retain the capability with all those hands in play to defend our island nation and its territories around the world.

The Strategic Defence Review outlines what will be needed by the military over the next ten and twenty years if the decline in our capability is to be halted and if the security of the free world is still to be able to depend upon the United Kingdom as one of its standard bearers. It outlines the need for three new aircraft carriers to replace those that will be retiring in the next decade, including HMS Illustrious, presently on deployment for ongoing war games in the Pacific. These new aircraft carriers, which should be capable of launching catapult assisted takeoff but arrested recovery aircraft, which should be nuclear-powered in order to facilitate long-term and reliable deployments, and which should have at their disposal an arsenal comparable in scope to that which was proposed for the CVA-01 in the 1960s, would cost circa £12 billion apiece. Their purchase is not optional; should or aircraft carrier capacity decline or be eliminated, it will not be easily regained. More importantly, the construction of these vessels is a decade or decades-long project which cannot be rapidly green-lit in a time of suddenly changing international priorities. For the sake of our defence and our security, we must have the tools when we do not need them so that we may deploy them quickly if and when we do: to coin a phrase, we must fix the roof while the sun is shining and ensure that nobody can burst through the sunroof in a surprise assault which catches us off guard.

The Review further identifies the need, over the next ten years, to purchase 175 new tanks, 200 new artillery pieces, 450 armoured vehicles, 50 attack helicopters, 4 submarines, 5 new destroyers and frigates to replace the ten which have already been or are already being axed, 40 new maritime patrol vehicles to secure our coastline and 100 new carrier-based aircraft of a type as yet undetermined which will replace the Sea Harrier, presumably with supersonic capabilities, and complement our carrier fleet. The Review identifies a need over ten years for thirty additional strike fighters, 15 transport and refuelling aircraft and up to 60 helicopters for the transportation of troops.

Madam Speaker, the total cost envisaged by the Review is to the tune of £70 billion over a ten-year period, or £7 billion of additional spending per year compared to the status quo. Much of this spend represents one-off capital investment in new equipment and facilities, which would not form a longer-term component of current budget spending. It represents a 50% increase in the size of the fleet air arm and a 15% increase in the number of frontline troops over the course of the next decade. 

The Review of course represents a recommendation from the Ministry of Defence and the armed forces community; it is naturally a matter for my right honourable friend the Chancellor to determine the precise funding allocation that will be possible over the coming years. What I have made clear to the Chancellor in my extensive discussions with the Treasury is that no further cuts to the defence budget can reasonably be made without seriously jeopardising the ability of the British armed forces to act in the defence of the realm, and to that end I can confirm that the further sale of military assets has been halted effective immediately.

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  MoD Press Release: Pacific War Games
Posted by: Kandler - 10-29-2019, 03:47 PM - Forum: Marked Press Cycles - Replies (1)


Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States are together participating in a series of naval manoeuvres in the Pacific Ocean.

The 'war games,' to which Britain is committing HMS Illustrious and a number of frigates and destroyers, will take place over the course of the next three weeks, and mark the most significant joint military operation between the AUSCANZUKUS allies in recent years.

The United States have committed a carrier battle group to the exercises led by USS Theodore Roosevelt. Australia, Canada and New Zealand have committed smaller strategic assets.

HMS Illustrious and her escorts, HMS Boxer, Beaver, Battleaxe, Gloucester and York, complimented by a Sea Harrier Jump Jets, will participate in a series of drills aimed at testing the alliance's interoperability and operational readiness.

The Defence Secretary, Harriet Jones, said: 'In Europe and the North Atlantic, we have an established presence in NATO; in the pacific and particularly the South Pacific, there is a growing strategic interest with - as yet - no similar common defensive structure.'

'This exercise is aimed at increasing the bounds of AUSCANZUKUS military cooperation, and testing our ability to rapidly deploy in unison.;'

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  Press Cycle 24: Parental Involvement in Schools
Posted by: Brown - 10-29-2019, 01:20 PM - Forum: Marked Press Cycles - Replies (14)

What do you think of the Government's proposed bill to increase Parental Involvement in schools?

Cycle closes at 23:59 on the 3rd of November.

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  Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 1995
Posted by: Dayton Highland (CON) - 10-28-2019, 05:24 PM - Forum: Passed Legislation - Replies (21)

Madam Speaker, I beg the bill be read a First Time and be printed.

(Copy of the bill at https://docs.google.com/document/d/1b76E...sp=sharing)

Madam Speaker, I rise today to introduce the first part of the Government's ambitious agenda for education, the Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 1995. Three years ago, this government was elected on a manifesto that made a promise to give all parents a right to choice over their child's education. This Act does that, and seeks to help establish a culture of accountability for schools to the people they serve. The Schools (Parental Involvement) Act 1995, which for sake of convenience I shall henceforth refer to as the Parental Involvement Act, gives education authorities the means to increase parental involvement in state education through both a document known as a strategy for parental involvement, and gives these education authorities responsibility for the creation of Parent Councils. Too often in this country, parents can feel powerless when it comes to their child's education, and unable to intervene if they feel their school is failing. As a former teacher myself, I say this with experience behind me: when it comes to their child's education and future, parents know what is best for their child's education, and this bill will provide them the powers necessary to help improve it.

This bill, as I mentioned, can be split into two sections: one covering the responsibilities of education authorities in regard to strategies for parental involvement, and the other detailing the powers and structure and the process for the establishment of Parent Councils. In regard to the first section, each local authority will be legally required to create a "strategy for parental involvement", in which they will outline their plans to increase the involvement of parents in regards to schools, to ensure that they play a part in the running of the school. This means that, legally, education authorities would be mandated to have parents at the heart of education. Additionally, these strategies will not just promote parent's involvement in their own child's education, but also promote their involvement in the life of the school more generally. This bill will bring parents, children, and teachers together, and bring our communities up and down the country closer together.

The second part of the bill, as I mentioned, focuses on Parent Councils. The parent forum already plays an important role in the operation of a school, but what this bill seeks to do is formalise this through a body, formed by members of the Parent Forum, which represents their interests and works together with the school to create a compromise that works the best for our parents and children. Although these bodies will be set up with help from local education authorities, it is important to make this clear: they must, and will be a place for parents to discuss their concerns and take action on them free from interference from anyone, although their primary ambition should still be to come to a compromise position. However, this should not mean that parents should be powerless should the Parent Council agree that action needs to be taken. Through a complaints process, Parent Councils are able to raise an official complaint to Ofsted should they consider their schools to be failing. This is our parent's guarantee - if Ofsted finds that this complaint is justified, the school's management will be replaced. This act hands back power to parents.

Madam Speaker, I commend this legislation to the House

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  Liberal Democrat Doncaster Coal Speech
Posted by: Ege (LD) - 10-27-2019, 06:14 PM - Forum: Marked Press Cycles - Replies (1)

(NUM and coal industry representatives also attended the speech)

Good afternoon everyone, 

It is great to be in Doncaster, this town feels like home to me, down to earth, working class and proud. My parents were Jewish and participated in French resistance, after the war, they immigrated to Britain, my mum was a teacher and my pa was a factory worker. We lived in decent conditions, not the greatest but certainly not in conditions working class people see today. Working class communities across the country faced the brunt of Thatcher’s brutal attack on our public services. I was there, I remember it all too well. I was working as a social worker, I have seen the effects of this horrible attack on our social services and I have also seen how Labour was incapable of doing anything because of infighting and refusal to compromise. Right now, we face a different problem, Labour has gone from refusing to compromise to basically adopting Tory policies. Unfortunately, the British Coal has been privatised and only Liberal Democrats opposed this policy, now we have to do damage control first and then work on how to revive our working class communities in coal mining areas. 

As Liberal Democrats, we do have a plan for reviving our communities and make sure we can do best of this privatisation. First of all the value of British Coal, the amount the government will make from this deal is around 2 billion pounds, as Liberal Democrats we pledge to invest this amount in our working class communities over a decade, ring fenced obviously, to ensure that the money made off of our working class communities are spent in our communities and not used to subsidies tax breaks for the wealthy. The reason why we want to invest over a decade instead of one off deal is because we want to create an economically sustainable environment for our communities, one off deals are great for short term solutions but in general they barely make dents in the long term and that is why as Liberal Democrats we promise to make sure this investment is spent effectively and in a way that ensures sustainability and viability of our communities in the long term.

Our policy around coal mines has been to keep British Coal and open up mines to other firms as well to ensure a competitive environment, this way we could see much better conditions for our workers and for our communities, instead of a monopoly that holds every card in the table. Our policy to shift the mines to the crown and issue licences for companies to mine stays the same, we will use these licencing fees to create a Coal Investment Fund. Every single penny earned from licencing fees shall be appropriated to the Coal Investment Fund. The fund will be used for two things investing in our local communities and to develop green technology especially in areas of energy and transportation. 90 percent of the fund shall be reserved for our coal communities, this investment shall be used on areas of  housing, healthcare, interest free business loans, infrastructure, education and culture. 20 percent of the local community fund shall be spared for environmental preservation projects in our coal communities. 10 percent of the total fund shall be used to develop green technology. 

We will also attach two conditions for companies who wants to have access to our licences. First condition shall be that, these companies have to agree to invest in the local NHS specifically to aid in areas of workplace related diseases such as black lung and other respiratory diseases. This will ensure sustainability of our NHS and ensure that resources for coal mining related diseases are met in these local areas. Second condition will be that companies who wants to have access to these licences will be required to invest in local environmental infrastructure and preservation projects as well. Our lands will be used to generate huge profits, that should come with good conditions for our miners and investment in our communities that allow these companies to soar in profits. That is the only fair way we can ensure that our communities get a fair deal. 

It would be a disservice to this community and to our coal miners without mentioning the losses these communities and miners endured. Our miners and their communities endured disasters, accidents and blatant disregard for safety in the name of profits over the years, to fire up the engine of this country and when it came to disasters, accidents and workplace deaths, they were told off, one stark example is in 1966, a horrific disaster occurred in Aberfan, Wales. 144 people died, 28 adults and 116 children. This was not an accident, it was a disaster happened due to unscrupulous employers, this was an entirely preventable disaster and it still happened. The Labour government of the time, even had the gall to demand money from the Aberfan Disaster Memorial Fund for the clearance, money that was collected for the victims and their families. As Liberal Democrats, we pledged to pay back the money that was taken from the Memorial Fund with interest and inflation adjusted. This will amount about 1.5 million and as Liberal Democrats, we will return this money immediately to the fund, with an apology to the fund for this disgraceful action and to the people of Aberfan for inadequate actions from the UK government regarding prosecuting and fining people who were responsible for this disaster. Because supporting our coal miners and communities should not and can not happen without fixing mistakes of the past and that is why Liberal Democrats are the party of working class communities.

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  M-01: Defence
Posted by: Kandler - 10-27-2019, 03:47 PM - Forum: Failed Motions - Replies (3)

Madam Speaker,

I beg to move:

Quote:That this House endorses the decision of Her Majesty’s Government to conduct a Strategic Defence Review, reaffirms its commitment under the Armed Forces Act to the maintenance of a standing Army, continues to endorse the maintenance of a functioning nuclear weapons arsenal, and commits to undertaking such measures as may be necessary in order to support and enhance the United Kingdom’s strategic defence capabilities.

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  Press Cycle 23: Nuclear Testing
Posted by: Brown - 10-26-2019, 01:08 AM - Forum: Marked Press Cycles - Replies (4)

What do you make of France's nuclear testing in the Pacific? What, if anything, should be done about it?

Cycle closes at 23:59 on the 30th of October.

Please remember to bold your taglines. One-liners are discouraged.

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  Press Cycle 22: Independent Inquiry
Posted by: Mac - 10-25-2019, 02:39 PM - Forum: Marked Press Cycles - Replies (23)

Does there need to be an independent inquiry? If yes how broad an inquiry is required?

Answers on a postcard by 23:59 on the 1st of November (Time extended by A-Team)

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  Cross Party Press Conference regarding an independent inquiry
Posted by: Ege (LD) - 10-25-2019, 02:29 PM - Forum: Marked Press Cycles - Replies (4)

(Noémie Suchet, Calvin Ward and leaders of SNP, PC, SDLP and UUP are here all together.)

Noémie Suchet:
Today we are seeing something that is rare in British politics, leaders from different parties, stripes and beliefs are united and we here to call for an independent inquiry into the operation conducted in the Falklands. We have had our suspicions about this operation and repeatedly asked about the reasoning of this operation, the specific threat that led to this operation and the government stonewalled our questioning, and in return questioned our patriotism in return because we were asking questions about this operation and why did we need it. We never got any answers, only deflections, attacks and avoidance. With appointment of Harriet Jones as the new Minister of Defence, I chose to ask these questions once again, in the hope that we can get at least some answers from the newly appointed minister and to her credit, I have gotten a fast response from her and the response was shocking. There was no threat against our interests in the Falklands, then Minister of Defense went away with this operation on a whim, without any advice and suggestion from our military leaders and experts. This answer finally confirmed our suspicions about this operation, that something was wrong with it, that the government was hiding something about it.

This operation was an egregious waste of time and resources, irresponsible and reckless in its conduct, it has placed our soldiers and citizens in danger and finally broke the trust we have in our government. Let me be clear about something, this operation endangered our standing in the world, wasted our limited resources and could have ended up in a disaster or war just because of the whims of a man and lack of courage by the then Prime Minister Masters, Deputy Prime Minister and Chancellor Harold Saxon and Foreign Secretary Lewis Graves. Prime Minister Masters should have fired him on the spot, Harold Saxon and Lewis Graves should have pushed to fire him or resign in protest, instead every single one of these men chose to cover it up because they lacked the courage to fire this irresponsible, reckless and impulsive man who acts on his whims. They have stonewalled us, questioned our patriotism, misled the British Public and the Parliament and now that the truth is out, they are once again trying to cover up their cover up. This operation could have led to deaths of our soldiers and citizens, this operation could have led to a war and it would have been for nothing.
 Do not get me wrong, this operation already damaged our country and her standing. Our standing with our allies has been damaged, they will no longer trust us as they did before. There will always be questions about our intentions and if there is a real crisis out there, there will always be doubts about whether it is real or just actions of a man acting on his whims. This operation wasted money that could have been spent to protect our citizens, instead of putting them in harm's way. Our country is already in a tough spot with what is going on around the world and inside our country and we need every resource we can spare to protect this country, instead we are wasting it on whims of a man and lack of courage of others. We are wasting our credibility and reliability on reckless operations.
That is why all of us are here and that is why all of us are calling for an independent inquiry into this matter so that at the very least we can find out what is going on, learn if the government is hiding anymore information from the British public and to ensure we will not have a government and military acting on whims of a man who was desperate for attention and a bunch of people who were too cowardly to stop it. Now I will leave the stage to Calvin. 

Calvin Ward: 
Last year, at the beginning of the Master’s government, the Defence Secretary sent a substantial portion of the Royal Navy toward the Falklands under the guise of protecting commercial vessels from threat. As Opposition parties, we all asked the government to explain their reasoning. The Defence Secretary as well as the then Prime Minister assured us that there were good reasons. However, they could never prove what that threat was. This move caused international tension. What we have learned is that there was no direct threat or cause for these actions. When we as an Opposition attempted to hold the government to account, we were not met with transparency or honesty. Rather we were met with misdirection and stonewalling. The current Prime Minister has continued in that tradition. He refuses to answer direct questions. This whole string of governments has been a deteriorating disaster of covering up mistakes and double talk.This is a serious issue. The Conservatives created an international incident without cause. They put the lives of our naval services at risk, sent us on the brink of attack, and wasted millions of the public’s money for no reason. To cover it up, the former Prime Minister misled Parliament. The current t Prime Minister is not without fault. He was at the time both Chancellor and Deputy Prime Minister. 
Mr. Masters said that by pressing this issue, I was making a mountain out of a molehill. What we have come to see is that it’s Kilimanjaro hanging around the neck of this government. I said at last year’s Labour Party conference that we need transparency in government. I have said since day one that Britain deserves better. I believe at this time it is necessary for the Saxon ministry to call an election and to hold themselves accountable to the electorate. The Prime Minister refuses. He has shown that the Conservatives are buried in Graves, Masters of nothing, and they should all be sacked.
However, today we as a united Opposition, reaching across party lines, are calling for an independent inquiry into the Argentine Debacle. We cannot trust this government to be transparent. We cannot expect them to be honest or to be held to account on their own. They have misled Parliament and by extension the whole of the country. Leaders are not those with position. Rather they are those who do right and walk in truth.The inquiry should focus on I believe a simple task. They should answer three questions: What did Mr. Saxon know? When did he know it? Why didn’t he or his predecessor stop it and instead attempted to cover it up? The Conservatives have acted in secrecy and shadow for far too long. If they have nothing to fear, if there is nothing left for us to see, then they ought to welcome the inquiry.If they are innocent, they should welcome scrutiny. If the Prime Minister continues to stonewall and reject this inquiry, he himself is cooperating with the misleading of the House and thus the erosion of our parliamentary democracy.

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  Discord down
Posted by: Rt. Hon. Sir Harold Saxon (CON) - 10-24-2019, 02:14 PM - Forum: The Red Lion - Replies (1)

Believe it’s not working, users across Europe and USA reporting same thing online

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