Tomorrow the Secretary of State for Burying Bad News will issue a statement to the House of Conmens on the future of the Narnia Armed Forces. The final speech has yet to be confirmed but I believe it will run something like this: My honourable colleagues (and Eric). I speak to you today on a matter of great national import, namely the defence of our great nation. You will be as acutely aware as I that our defence budget has been stretched for some time now, perhaps even overspent, and equally aware that this is a global phenomenon and not one where blame can be laid at our own door. Hear, hear We must, however, change the way we do business, and change it quickly. To that end, a governmental working group was charged to look at innovative ways of doing more with less and, no less importantly, improving the lot of those brave men and women who serve our nation so well. Their final report and recommendations will be issued on general circulation next week, but I wish to now take this opportunity to appraise you of some of the more important people elements contained within it. Firstly, pensions. These have been extraordinarily generous over the years, but no less that our people deserve. They do not, however, serve our people well. The prospect of a decent pension effectively acts as a brake on our national productivity; firstly by trapping highly-trained personnel in a military career, when they could be delivering effect in the private sector; and secondly, through receipt of an immediate pension at a relatively early age, by removing the incentive to work hard in a second career. I intend to remove this disincentive by realigning the age at which service personnel receive pensions to the State pension age. Secondly, I intend to contract out the military pension scheme. Now, I know this will come as a shock to some, but I intend to alleviate the pain by ensuring that the pension our servicemen will start to receive at the age of 66 is second to none. I will do this by ensuring all pension contributions are invested as bonds with our valued PFI partners, thereby ensuring vastly-inflated returns on their investment. Bravo, bravo. Moving on to housing. As with pensions we do our servicemen no favours with the current provision of state-provided housing. We have had focus groups out and about for some time now, and the overwhelming response from servicemen, and their families, is that they want more independence, more freedom of manoeuvre, and less over-watch by the military. In short, they want to own their own property, in an area that suits them. Now, I hear you say that collective housing is essential to cohesion, particularly at a time of high-intensity operational deployments, and that dispersing the military community will leave a huge gap in welfare capability. You are, of course, entirely correct, and I intend to fully mitigate this by putting in place a 24-hour helpline, in a call-centre manned by the best of the currently surplus state employees. I will also put in place a scheme whereby servicemen will receive assistance to purchase and fund housing, the assistance being provided by a consortium of ex-Defence housing specialists who, I am pleased to announce, have also won the tender to dispose of the remainder of the military estate. There will be a property to suit all. Affordability is of course an issue, and some may have to occupy properties in less-desirable areas, and of a smaller overall capacity than they currently occupy. I say to you, however, that from small acorns do great oaks grow. Hear, hear Finally, I wish to touch on careers. An interesting word is career, interesting in that it has connotations of long service, and that it is a vocation rather than a job. This perception is holding our people back. I want them to have the freedom to easily switch between civilian and military employment, and intend therefore to end all the current extended career options and replace them with 6/12 monthly renewable contracts. Some will say this creates uncertainty, and makes planning difficult. Others will say we will not be able to retain our best people, or that we will experience skill fade and capability loss. To these people I say rise up to the challenge, do not bury your head in the sand, but rather look up to the sunlit uplands of an innovative defence posture. There is nothing to fear but fear itself. Thank you for your attention and support. I commend these measures to the House. Much cheering and back-slapping will ensue, before members retire to the Stranglers Bar to replenish themselves with state-subsidised, but thoroughly, deserved food and drink, and talk about matters of great national import such as the inflation-proofing of expenses, and who is next in line for elevation to the Upper Sinecure House.