Questions to Defence Secretary, 20 October 2014 at 2.30pm

DOT

Old-Salt
Questions to the Secretary of State for Defence
Due to take place Monday, 20 October at 2.30pm in the House of Commons Chamber

Questions due to be asked to the Minister today include:
Ebola:
  • What the timeline is for deployment of British troops in West Africa; and if he will make a statement - Martin Horwood
ISIL:
  • What contribution UK armed forces are making to the international effort against ISIL - Karl McCartney
Strategic Defence and Security Review:
  • What progress his Department has made on the next Strategic Defence and Security Review; and if he will make a statement - Steve Rotheram
Equipment:
  • What investment his Department has made in armoured vehicle capability for the Army - Heather Wheeler
  • What progress his Department has made in upgrading helicopter fleets across the armed forces - Caroline Nokes
Home ownership:
  • What steps he is taking to increase home ownership among members of the armed forces - Andrew Jones
Reserves:
  • What steps he has taken to improve the process for applying to join the Reserves - Damian Collins

To read the full list of questions due to be asked go to http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmagenda/ob141020.htm


Which questions are you most interested in the answer to?

How to watch:

The Questions can be viewed on: Parliament TV Player

Transcripts of proceedings in the House of Commons Chamber are available three hours after they happen in Today's Commons debates: UK Parliament
 
E

EScotia

Guest
I'd much rather the Minister explained why the Lump sums awarded under AFCS aren't index linked to avoid deflation in the amount of compensation awarded to injured servicemen. Pensions (used in the calculation of the GIP under AFCS) and War Pensions are index linked so why not the Lump sum?
 
Reserves:
  • What steps he has taken to improve the process for applying to join the Reserves - Damian Collins
Aha, that would explain the recent burst of frantic deckchair rearrangement that saw the upper age limit for joining hit 50.

How about just taking a little bit more risk and reduce the 'getting into uniform' bit to about 3 weeks instead of trying to get all the procedural ducks in a row as though the poor saps are entering into a 12 year Regular engagement?

If someone wants to join the pony club, its because they want to ride the ******* pony, not sit in a joining process that makes the Civil Service look efficient.
 

DOT

Old-Salt
The responses to all the questions asked to the SoS yesterday can be found at House of Commons Hansard: 20 October 2014

Aha, that would explain the recent burst of frantic deckchair rearrangement that saw the upper age limit for joining hit 50.
How about just taking a little bit more risk and reduce the 'getting into uniform' bit to about 3 weeks instead of trying to get all the procedural ducks in a row as though the poor saps are entering into a 12 year Regular engagement?
If someone wants to join the pony club, its because they want to ride the ******* pony, not sit in a joining process that makes the Civil Service look efficient.


Hi @stickybomb, we’ve included the questions regarding reserves below, including the answer to Damian Collins' question on the process for applying to join the reserves that you mentioned in your post yesterday – hope this is useful?

Reserves

3. Damian Collins (Folkestone and Hythe) (Con): What steps he has taken to improve the process for applying to join the reserves. [905515]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Julian Brazier): All the reserve forces have worked to simplify their application procedures, including through streamlined online processes and shorter medical forms. We have increased capacity in Army recruitment and selection centres, and more mentoring and support for candidates is being provided by their chosen unit. Early indications of those measures are promising, and Army Reserve enlistments over the summer quarter, traditionally the quarter when enlistments are lowest by far, are running at roughly double the levels of last year.


Damian Collins: I welcome my hon. Friend and constituency neighbour to his appointment as reserves Minister. The Gurkhas are a much-valued force within the British Army. Would the MOD be prepared to consider creating a Gurkha company within the reserves, if that would help to boost the number of Gurkhas who seek to join the reserves after their retirement or of their children who seek to do so?
Mr Brazier: I thank my hon. Friend for his kind welcoming of my unexpected mobilisation. We are indeed looking at ways in which we can get more ex-Gurkhas to join the Army Reserve, but there are legal and practical reasons against establishing a separate Gurkha reserve unit. Given their experience, there are great benefits in ex-Gurkha personnel joining a whole range of Army Reserve units. Gurkhas leaving the Army receive briefs on reserve service as part of their transition support, and we have a programme of using ex-Gurkha reservists to visit Gurkha units to provide case studies of what can be expected.


Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op): I am not a defence expert, but I do chair a skills commission, and I know about the market for certain skills. Is not the problem that the whole reserve policy is bound to fail, because these days most people in our country work for small and medium-sized enterprises that do not allow, or have the capacity for, people to serve as reservists?


Mr Brazier: I hugely respect the hon. Gentleman, but I should tell him that these targets are extremely low compared with either our national history or targets in our English-speaking counterparts. A whole range of larger businesses has come on board, 10 of which have already been over to Downing street for their gold awards. As a special incentive for the employers of SMEs, we are offering an additional £500 a month over and above the other award they can get if someone is mobilised. The various branches of Government, including the civil service, are all on the move. This can and will be done.


Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) (LD): Clearly, this is a welcome scheme. What more can be done to promote it to small businesses as a way of encouraging them to be happy about people being reservists?


Mr Brazier: We are making use of every possible route. The Federation of Small Businesses is particularly active and helpful on this. The Reserve Forces and Cadets Association and Supporting Britain's Reservists and Employers—SaBRE—which now comes under it, are providing advice to small businesses. A small business connection with just seven employees expressed his concern through a family friend about taking on a reservist. I was able to put him in touch with those organisations and provide reassuring messages. A pack will come out shortly showing individual MPs can help.


Huw Irranca-Davies (Ogmore) (Lab): The South Wales valleys have traditionally been a recruitment source for the regulars and the reserves, and long may that continue for those young people who wish to pursue such a career. The valleys are also characterised by a huge proportion of small and medium-sized enterprises. Will the Minister monitor the success of this approach, and has he set targets internally on how he will measure his success with SMEs?


Mr Brazier: We are looking at the employment market of reservists in a segmented fashion, but we do not have separate targets for separate sectors. We want to make progress in all areas—Government, large businesses, SMEs and self-employed as well as students, who are now a crucial element and of particular interest to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State.
Thanks
DOT
 
DOT, thanks, but I was struck by the fact that it was a very benign question to begin with. A better one would have been along the lines of "What is the average length of time it takes a recruit to get from first interest to start training and how does that compare with the original RPP aspiration?"...and, as a cheeky little chaser... "Is that a reasonable timeframe in which to hold the attention of a young person who has grown up in a 'Customer is King' ethos?"

But I accept that these exchanges are often an exercise in choreography rather than real questioning.
 
You weren't saying that tongue in cheek. We have now committed to UP TO 19 frigates and destroyers...
Yeah — fitted for, but not with, engineering officers.
 

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