House of Commons full TA debate - Wednesday 28th October


Book Reviewer

The REAL debate on the TA is now on Wednesday this week - the Conservatives have called it, and it's not an EDM like the Mark Lancaster one. This is the real deal - so keep those letters to MPs going.
And here's how to do it:

And this is what you might like to include: Mention how long you have been in the TA, what you have done, how you have benefited and what impact 5 months of unpaid training will have on you and your fellow soldiers. You may like to comment on the effect it may have on the perception of UK's standing globally.

Details here on the parliamentary calendar:

Whilst I applaud the dedication you guys are showing, this is Land's decision and not the MPs.

We must recognise that in the grand scheme of things, the TA isn't the MoD's biggest priority. Therefore, the best case scenario is that the Government draws down on funding from other departments, gives it to the MoD and tells them to ringfence is for the TA.

This is a political points scoring exercise, not a resolution to our problem.
If Land / MOD wanted to find the money, it'd be forthcoming.
As someone has already posted elsewhere, this smacks of a diversionary tactic to keep pet projects alive just long enough for the General Election to be called, and then they can be 'culled' by the incoming Government with no political loss of face for Broon/Mandlebrum/commie party UK.

I'd doubt the actual idea came from a serving soldier, more likely a pet civil serpent, hell bent on doing his masters bidding with a promise of a peerage at some point later in career.
Well I had a response to my e-mail to Hazel Blears today:

Dear Mr 81cufc

I am just writing further to your recent email with regard to the budget cuts for Territorial Army training.

I am very sympathetic to your concerns and I am delighted at your commitment to the Territoral Army. It is vital that no TA soldier will be deployed on operations unless the Army is satisfied that the soldier is properly trained and prepared.

Please rest assured that I have contacted the Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth and raised your concerns with him. I shall press him on this issue and will of course get back in touch with you when I receive a response.

Thank you very much for raising this important matter with me.

Best wishes

OldSnowy said:

The REAL debate on the TA is now on Wednesday this week - the Conservatives have called it, and it's not an EDM like the Mark Lancaster one. This is the real deal - so keep those letters to MPs going.
What time is the show starting? Going to get my popcorn and beers on standby :D
Got the debate on in the background.....

Despite the decision on reversing the funding cut has been made, they are still going at it......Not really listening to the debate at the moment, as I am having impure thoughts about Chloe Smith MP for Norwich North :D
They made Bob( the man with no shame) Ainsworth look a right cnut
Democracy in action! Hazel Blears rang me tonight.

It turns out her brother was in the REME, so she wasn't happy about this anyway; however the fact it effected her constituents gave her something with which to confront the armed forces minister.

I told her that we as a force are happy that the funds have been found & informed her of the depth of feeling amongst Arrsers! She even acknowledged the wider problem of ensuring next & following years budgets are more appropriate to ensure no repeat of this.

A tick in the win column if ya ask me.
To those that are using Land Command as a scapegoat, the generals are answerable to the Secretary of State and PM, not the other way round. Kind of disturbing that the ministers would use that excuse. Even more disturbing that some people are daft enough to follow it.


Book Reviewer
Link to the Hansard report of the debate yesterday. And a very good debate it was too:

Some highlights:
Pre-deployment training is meant to augment, not supplant, routine TA training. The weekly and monthly training gives the TA the skills that are required to allow them to perform alongside their regular Army counterparts. It also gives our Territorials the esprit de corps and confidence to work together as a unit in challenging circumstances, whether at home or in Helmand. How can a Territorial who has not been to the range for six months, driven an armoured vehicle for six months or trained with his comrades for six months be expected all of a sudden to conduct several weeks of pre-deployment training and be ready for deployment on the front line? The answer is that no Territorial can be expected to do that, which is why the cuts were wrong in the first place.

Mr. Lindsay Hoyle (Chorley) (Lab): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that it was right for the Prime Minister to intervene and overturn a decision by Land Command? Does he agree that the problem with Land Command is that it is easy to pick on the TA and never pick on the regulars?

Dr. Fox: And it is very easy to pick on the generals instead of the politicians, because if people are given a set of bad choices to choose from, they are likely to make unwelcome decisions.

[hr] [hr]
Ann Winterton (Congleton) (Con): Does my hon. Friend agree that when the Army was asked to make cuts amounting to £43 million, the regular generals were rather Machiavellian in choosing to cut the TA budget, knowing that that would be very unpopular with the country and that it would probably be reversed? Is it not, however, also at a stroke a blow to the one Army concept, because what will the TA now think about the regular Army, and in particular the regular generals?

Dr. Fox: My hon. Friend puts her finger on the key point that there will be long-standing damage to morale as a consequence of what has happened in recent days, and that cannot easily be rectified by a U-turn by politicians. As a result of all these points, one must ask why the Government considered such cuts to begin with, when almost all the advice they received runs against such a decision. On training, the Cottam report—whose seven strategic recommendations were accepted in full by the Government—said:
“Training is pivotal to the Proposition. The delivery of training should be overhauled to make it more relevant, consistent and correctly resourced.”
The Government said these cuts would not have a long-term impact on providing Territorials for Afghanistan, but that is not the view of senior Army officers. According to the “Land forces in-year savings measure communication plan” dated 12 October 2009, the “TA trained strength may fall from 20,000 to around 18,000 by 1 Apr 2010, putting at risk the TA’s ability to deliver 700-800 trained soldiers for Op HERRICK from 2012 onwards.”

[hr] [hr]
Lembit Öpik (Montgomeryshire) (LD): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the key issue is that the Government, rather than feeling remorse or a sense of error in what they have done, have retreated due to political pressure? Does he agree that, as he rightly points out, the strategic imperative to invest in the Army is clear-cut, but the Government seem to be trying to make savings on a tactical basis and that that means there is a continuing danger?

Dr. Fox: That is a little unkind; a surrender is a surrender. We are always willing to accept one from the Government, especially when they have already got things wrong.

[hr] [hr]
Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): Given that these cuts have been reversed, is not the most damaging thing about all this its effect on the TA, as my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Ann Winterton) said? Those of us who served in the TA thought that we were part of one Army—that our training was as good as that of any regular officer or soldier standing alongside us, and we often did the same job that people are now doing in Afghanistan. Sadly, when it came to the crunch, Ministers gave the impression that senior officers in the Army were ready to ditch the TA. We do not know whether that is true, but it will undermine relations between the TA and the regular Army for years to come. That is the most damaging aspect of what has happened over the past few days, and it cannot be reversed.

The final result:
The House divided: Ayes 213, Noes 293.

In short -
If the £20M had not been found, the Government would have lost a vote - which would have been only the third time since they came to power (the last one was the gurkhas). As pointed out in the debate, the Whips told the PM he would lose, and to find the cash PDQ - which he did.

Congratulations to all those on ARRSE and beyond who contaced their MPs and told them the facts. This campaign, short though it was, worked.
It's unfashionable nowadays to say anything good about MPs, but I think we owe a big thanks to those 293 who effectively voted for the TA's continued existence.

Let's not forget the TA's supporters in the House of Lords either. Even the Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells weighed in to the debate!

On a more ominous note,

Couldn't help noticing the final line (addition) in the early Day Motion on 15 Oct 2009:

That this House salutes the service of members of the Territorial Army (TA); deplores the freezing of TA training; notes the adverse impact this will have on generic war fighting capability, morale, recruitment and retention; further notes that the measure conflicts with the Cottam Strategic Review of Reserves published in April 2009 which the Government accepted in full; and calls on the Government to reverse its decision immediately.

at end add `and thereby rejects the recommendation of the service chiefs.'.