Defence Debate

#2
Interesting that they are saying we should have 'Patience' and wait for their announcement of our pay review. It gets enacted in 3 working days FFS !
 
#3
I had the pleasure of watching some of it, and then turned my attention to some paint drying on a nearby window frame, I was, however discusted that how few of the mildew smelling MPs actually turned up for a defence debate when we are engaged in so much, disgusting, goes to show how much they care.....
 
#4
10BA09 said:
I had the pleasure of watching some of it, and then turned my attention to some paint drying on a nearby window frame, I was, however disgusted that how few of the mildew smelling MPs actually turned up for a defence debate when we are engaged in so much, disgusting, goes to show how much they care.....
That's appalling. Would there be a way of finding out how many MP's were actually present? It would be interesting to see what percentage of MP's were actually there, and how many were from the Defence Committee.


T C
 
#5
The following words by James Arbuthnot, Conservative MP for NE Hampshire, were particularly telling (link):

Hansard said:
...To give him his due, I believe that the Secretary of State for Defence believes in defence. I believe that of the whole defence ministerial team. However, the Ministry of Defence team alone does not have the capacity to deliver on the need to inspire and give the country the sort of warnings that Winston Churchill was giving in the 1930s. It needs the whole Government, including the Prime Minister, to pull in the same direction and they need to take the House, which is now nearly empty, with them.

This may seem a cheap point, but it happens to be true. To most Hon. Members, a defence debate means an opportunity not to discuss matters fundamental to the survival of this country and our values, but to go to their constituencies.
Yes, their work there is important, but it is rarely a matter of life and death, as what we are discussing today is. The Government need to take the country with them, but the plain truth is that the absence of Russian hordes in the northern approaches has meant that defence has become something that we have taken for granted and that some people, such as those involved in the Campaign Against Arms Trade, are even uncomfortable with.

In the House, there used to be three individual service day debates and two days’ debate on the statement on the defence estimate. All that became meaningless as the services did more and more on a joint basis, and it rightly changed in the late 1990s and the early part of this century. However, now there are three debates on policy, procurement and personnel, and two more were added—on defence in the world and defence in the UK—to make up for the defence estimates debate, those last two being particularly unfortunately named. We need a return to two days’ debate at a set time each year—perhaps when the MOD’s annual report is issued, so that there can be a useful focus. We need five general days’ debate on defence, and perhaps more.
 
#6
Discussed on another thread yesterday. At one point in mid-afternoon, I counted a total of 11 Honourable members - I would bet that all of those present held some sort of Defence appointment in their respective parties and were required to be there. Yes, a lot of the debate was tedious and mind-numbing, but where exactly does Defence sit on their radar? I don't need an answer on that one, thank you.
As posted elsewhere, most MP's see it as a great opportunity to disappear "back to their constituencies" for a long weekend. Disgraceful.
 
#7
The_Cheat said:
10BA09 said:
I had the pleasure of watching some of it, and then turned my attention to some paint drying on a nearby window frame, I was, however disgusted that how few of the mildew smelling MPs actually turned up for a defence debate when we are engaged in so much, disgusting, goes to show how much they care.....
That's appalling. Would there be a way of finding out how many MP's were actually present? It would be interesting to see what percentage of MP's were actually there, and how many were from the Defence Committee.


T C
I watched it on tv, not many, thats why they always have it on a Thursday, half the house are on their way home for the weekend. Today there are 11 members in the house at 1200, not bad for a Friday,after all there are only about 600 MPs
 
E

EScotia

Guest
#8
Dear my MP,

I believe there was an armed forces debate in the house of commons yesterday and you were not present. I believe you were among many from all parties who, in my opinion, disgracefully failed to represent many of your constituency who are either serving in the forces, have served in the forces or who have children, parents or friends serving, some of who have recently deployed to Afghanistan to carry out the orders of the government.

Should you have been at the debate you could have asked a question framed around the extremely shabby treatment by the government of the pay award that is now overdue for the armed forces (and other public sector workers)at a time when they have chosen to deploy the armed forces on two fronts and intends to deploy more to Afghanistan.

Would you please ask a written question regarding the pay award and also ask why members of the pay award body are resigning, is it in protest?




Yours sincerely,

EScotia
 
#9
Interesting Comments on decompression from the speech:

The hon. Member for Woodspring raised the issue of decompression. Every time I have been to theatre, I have asked about the issue. I was in Afghanistan a few weeks ago and asked again whether the decompression period was long enough. It is 48 hours in Cyprus. Every single time, both commanders and normal soldiers tell me that that is long enough. I have said this to the hon. Gentleman before: I ask him not to downgrade in any way the role of our civil servants serving overseas. I do not think that he did so intentionally. Those staff are volunteers, and many are doing dangerous jobs in dangerous situations. We should thank them for the role they play.

This is with reference to the following statement from earlier on in the speech:

Dr. Fox: Indeed it is. Mental health services are the Cinderella service in the NHS, and as a society we must re-evaluate whether the way in which we treat those with mental health problems represents the social values that we would like to see in the world’s fifth richest country in the 21st century. I met representatives of Combat Stress yesterday. Such charities do a wonderful job, but we will have to do a lot more if we are properly to fulfil our obligations to those who, as my hon. Friend says, suffer as a consequence of fighting for our security.

They way in which we deal with the welfare of our armed forces is integral to dealing not only with the issues that we have mentioned but with our recruitment and retention problems. One thing that we need to consider is how we treat our armed forces compared with other public servants. I shall give one tiny example of mismatch that I was unaware of until my most recent visit to Iraq.

As many Members will know, our troops returning from Afghanistan get a maximum of 48 hours’ decompression, at the discretion of their commanding officer. It often occurs in unattractive surroundings in
Cyprus, and we have all heard many tales of lengthy periods spent sleeping on airport floors—not much respite for those who have faced bombings and shootings in our name. By contrast, the House might be interested to know that Foreign Office officials in Afghanistan get two weeks’ compulsory decompression for every six to seven weeks in theatre. Even better, Department for International Development officials are entitled to the same two-week break away from post for every six weeks in theatre, but they can take a break anywhere in the world on condition that the cost is equal to or less than that of a flight back to the UK.
That is not to say that we are treating our officials over-generously, but those in the armed forces will compare their treatment to that of people in other parts of the public service. That will have an impact on recruitment and retention.


That is quite interesting and says a lot for the commitment of the MoD to soldier's mental health.

GBTD
 
#10
tropper66 said:
The_Cheat said:
10BA09 said:
I had the pleasure of watching some of it, and then turned my attention to some paint drying on a nearby window frame, I was, however disgusted that how few of the mildew smelling MPs actually turned up for a defence debate when we are engaged in so much, disgusting, goes to show how much they care.....
That's appalling. Would there be a way of finding out how many MP's were actually present? It would be interesting to see what percentage of MP's were actually there, and how many were from the Defence Committee.


T C
I watched it on tv, not many, thats why they always have it on a Thursday, half the house are on their way home for the weekend. Today there are 11 members in the house at 1200, not bad for a Friday,after all there are only about 600 MPs
It's a growing problem. Parliament is run like the Army's officer corps in Victorian times. Once you get appointed to your post, attendance is optional.

IIRC George Galloway has set foot in Parliament once this year, for a debate on Gaza. At one point his member's interests entry listed 17 other, paid jobs that he had in addition to MP. He's now too busy with his media career and trips to Palestine to attend surgeries for his constituents.

No company would tolerate that, especially from an employee on a six figure salary. George's employers, i.e. his constituents, can do nothing until Gordon deigns to grant us a general election.
 
#11
Ancient_Mariner said:
tropper66 said:
The_Cheat said:
10BA09 said:
I had the pleasure of watching some of it, and then turned my attention to some paint drying on a nearby window frame, I was, however disgusted that how few of the mildew smelling MPs actually turned up for a defence debate when we are engaged in so much, disgusting, goes to show how much they care.....
That's appalling. Would there be a way of finding out how many MP's were actually present? It would be interesting to see what percentage of MP's were actually there, and how many were from the Defence Committee.


T C
I watched it on tv, not many, thats why they always have it on a Thursday, half the house are on their way home for the weekend. Today there are 11 members in the house at 1200, not bad for a Friday,after all there are only about 600 MPs
It's a growing problem. Parliament is run like the Army's officer corps in Victorian times. Once you get appointed to your post, attendance is optional.

IIRC George Galloway has set foot in Parliament once this year, for a debate on Gaza. At one point his member's interests entry listed 17 other, paid jobs that he had in addition to MP. He's now too busy with his media career and trips to Palestine to attend surgeries for his constituents.

No company would tolerate that, especially from an employee on a six figure salary. George's employers, i.e. his constituents, can do nothing until Gordon deigns to grant us a general election.
Which is why, I suggest, Gorgeous George is making hay whilst the sun shines. :D

Litotes
 
#12
Unfortunatly the contempt of our MPs(except for the 11 or so that turned up) for the armed forces of Britain come as no surprise whatsoever.

George Galloway has,I believe,the worst record of attendance in the House of all the MPs.

Very little is likely to change in this area in the forseeable future.I would include the period after the next election,and that is assuming the Labour Party lose,in that.

The whole area of MPs having other sources of income needs to be reviewed,and not by civil servants selected by the present government.
 
#13
goatbagthedruid said:
Interesting Comments on decompression from the speech:

The hon. Member for Woodspring raised the issue of decompression. Every time I have been to theatre, I have asked about the issue. I was in Afghanistan a few weeks ago and asked again whether the decompression period was long enough. It is 48 hours in Cyprus. Every single time, both commanders and normal soldiers tell me that that is long enough. I have said this to the hon. Gentleman before: I ask him not to downgrade in any way the role of our civil servants serving overseas. I do not think that he did so intentionally. Those staff are volunteers, and many are doing dangerous jobs in dangerous situations. We should thank them for the role they play.

This is with reference to the following statement from earlier on in the speech:

Dr. Fox: Indeed it is. Mental health services are the Cinderella service in the NHS, and as a society we must re-evaluate whether the way in which we treat those with mental health problems represents the social values that we would like to see in the world’s fifth richest country in the 21st century. I met representatives of Combat Stress yesterday. Such charities do a wonderful job, but we will have to do a lot more if we are properly to fulfil our obligations to those who, as my hon. Friend says, suffer as a consequence of fighting for our security.

They way in which we deal with the welfare of our armed forces is integral to dealing not only with the issues that we have mentioned but with our recruitment and retention problems. One thing that we need to consider is how we treat our armed forces compared with other public servants. I shall give one tiny example of mismatch that I was unaware of until my most recent visit to Iraq.

As many Members will know, our troops returning from Afghanistan get a maximum of 48 hours’ decompression, at the discretion of their commanding officer. It often occurs in unattractive surroundings in
Cyprus, and we have all heard many tales of lengthy periods spent sleeping on airport floors—not much respite for those who have faced bombings and shootings in our name. By contrast, the House might be interested to know that Foreign Office officials in Afghanistan get two weeks’ compulsory decompression for every six to seven weeks in theatre. Even better, Department for International Development officials are entitled to the same two-week break away from post for every six weeks in theatre, but they can take a break anywhere in the world on condition that the cost is equal to or less than that of a flight back to the UK.
That is not to say that we are treating our officials over-generously, but those in the armed forces will compare their treatment to that of people in other parts of the public service. That will have an impact on recruitment and retention.


That is quite interesting and says a lot for the commitment of the MoD to soldier's mental health.

GBTD
I think part of the problem is that the requirement to decompress has to be balanced with the soldier's not unnatural wish to just get home without any delay.

Note that the CS can take a break anywhere in the world, it would be interesting to see how many chose to just go home and have that as their break ie take it as R&R. Or if they went elsewhere have family meet them there.

Troops don't have that option and it would be completely impractical for it to exist in terms of arrangements that would have to be made for everyone.

Equally the POTL entitlement for the CS isn't detailed. Does anyone know what it is? Is it the same as a service person's? I had four and a bit weeks leave when I got home after 14 and a bit weeks away, POTL included and that's not too different from the CS 'decompression'.

Psychologically I'm all for the 48 hr decompression but can remember thinking when I got to Cyprus whether we couldnt just go straight home instead!

The accomodation is fine for the period that you're in Cyprus, it's good to be somewhere that has a) beer b) beach and sea and c) much reduced likelihood of bits of hot metal coming in one's direction!
 
#14
CS leave entitlements vary depending on which department you are working for.

For the MOD - you get 2 weeks R&R for a 6 month tour and if you want to go anywhere outside the trooper route then you can pay for it yourself. POTL is 2 weeks leave on return, but most people take some accrued leave too. They also need to find a new job, as those deployed leave their old posts and have to find new employment on their return in the dept. Not much fun! Decompression as such does not exist, and from personal experience, I've found that its psychologically incredibly difficult to go from being in theatre one day, to being at home the next, and being completely abandoned by the dept.

Wider OGDs tend not to use troopers, so it is easier to say they can fly somewhere else - they'd have flown civ air anyway, its just that they're flying to a different location. As for their leave, yes some do do 6 weeks on and two weeks off, but the main difference is that they deploy to Helmand for 2-3 YEARS! The FCO and DfID have vastly smaller manpower pools than us, and can't afford to generate new people every 6 months - what they do is long term postings and trickle post leave cover in, to give wider operational experience to people, and also build longer term relationships. I don't begrudge anyone spending 2-3 years in Lash a few days holiday every 6 weeks!
 
#16
Dear Minister, ('smithn@parliament.uk')

In you role in the Defence Ministry I thought you gave a fantastic speech about the virtues of our Armed Forces, and particularly welcomed you very poignant comment about the Sappers murdered in NI.

If I may quote you: “They stand for far more than that: honour; duty; sacrifice; commitment. Oft mocked as unfashionable, but they are surely qualities to which the whole of society should aspire. It is a privilege from a personal point of view to work with these extraordinary people.”

I couldn’t agree more. I was incredibly disappointed for the family of Mark Quinsey that his parents didn’t receive a posthumous award or Medal as a thank you for his “honour; duty; sacrifice; commitment”.

I believe this is compelling evidence that it is time that all our Armed Forces were given an Official Honour as the Australians have done so already with Her Majesty’s approval. Maybe then the general public will see that this Government has more than words to offer but real substance, and I’m sure it would restore some faith that the MOD and Politicians do care.

Many thanks,
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
psychobabble said:
Note that the CS can take a break anywhere in the world, it would be interesting to see how many chose to just go home and have that as their break ie take it as R&R. Or if they went elsewhere have family meet them there.

Troops don't have that option and it would be completely impractical for it to exist in terms of arrangements that would have to be made for everyone.

Equally the POTL entitlement for the CS isn't detailed. Does anyone know what it is? Is it the same as a service person's? I had four and a bit weeks leave when I got home after 14 and a bit weeks away, POTL included and that's not too different from the CS 'decompression'.
I'm from a different part of the CS. No officially-declared decompression at all. (No sense that we needed it - we'd been working hard, sure, but in an office inside a nice safe divisional headquarters, with lots of trained killers between us and the enemy.). I flew back from Basrah on Thursday, took Friday as flexi leave and was back in the office on Monday.


We did three-and-a-bit month tours, and had the same R&R rules as the Forces - if we hit four months we got a week, if we did six months we got two weeks, hence we all did "just less than four".

POTL was half a day of extra leave allowance per week in theatre. Some took it straight away, some used it later, depended on circumstances. I suppose I could have taken it "anywhere in the world" but I'd be doing so at my own expense unless I seriously missed a memo somewhere :)
 

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