Defence Estimates Debate

Posted on March 2, 2018

Every year the House of Commons sets aside three so-called ‘estimates days’ on which to consider the estimates of public spending by government departments.

The Liaison Committee then recommends which topics of debate, often looking at recent reports by departmental select committees.

This year, defence has taken centre stage, focusing heavily on spending and recruitment.

According to Sir Edward Leigh, MP for Gainsborough, the debate reached consensus among parties that there is a “need to improve the Defence of the Realm”.

But what were the main points?

1. Boost defence spending

Defence minister Tobias Ellwood called for an increase in military spending, saying that ‘a strong economy can’t be guaranteed without a strong defence’.

He insisted that Britain would struggle to play an influential role on a global scale and to keep fighting against extremism in the Middle East on the 2% NATO spending target.

2. Bring an end to the funding of the Iraq Fatality Investigations (IRI) unit

Conservative Leo Docherty raised concerns over the situation of a former British Army officer facing an eighth investigation over the death of an Iraqi teenager.

In doing so, he urged ministers to stop the “misuse” of taxpayers’ cash to fund the IRI unit – a government-funded body “investigating evidence in order to make findings about the circumstances in which a death has occurred”.

3. Rules preventing overseas recruits are “daft”

Conservative MP Andrew Bowie has called for residency rules that stop recruits from British Overseas Territories joining the Armed Forces to be scrapped.

He said residency requirements were “borderline discriminatory” and was doing British subjects a “huge disservice”, as “willing volunteers” are being denied the chance to serve at a time of recruitment problems in the Armed Forces.

4. Army’s medical assessment is ‘failing to deliver’ and turning recruits away

Conservative MP Mark Francois led calls in the Commons for a review of the recruitment contract with Capita.

Mr Francois said many potential recruits are being failed on medical grounds for minor reasons, adding that even the marathon world record holder Paula Radcliffe and former Olympian Sir Chris Hoy would not pass the current assessment.

5. Armed forces should wear their uniform in public

Tory backbencher Stephen Kerr claimed that the military should be encouraged to wear their uniform while going about their business, as a way to raise the profile and recognition of their service.

6. Young people ‘have no understanding of military life’

Labour MP Madeleine Moon told the Commons that it is “critical” for youngsters to engage with the armed forces, as many of them don’t see the “invaluable” work they carry out.

POLL

At what point should you start the Resettlement Process?

  • 2 years before departure? (45%, 5 Votes)
  • More than 2 years before you depart? (36%, 4 Votes)
  • Around 6 months before last day? (9%, 1 Votes)
  • 12 Months prior to departure? (9%, 1 Votes)

Total Voters: 11

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