The Times reports that the former top British Commander to NATO General Sir Richard Shirreff has called for Britain to push the alliance into rebuilding a 5,000-strong NATO response force to bolster defence against Russia. Speaking to MPs on the Defence Select Committee during an evidence session on ‘Deterrence in the 21st Century’, General Shirreff said that NATO should establish a permanent presence in the Baltics to deter Russian aggression. He said that he wanted to see a revival of the kind of exercises NATO used to conduct during the Cold War, which involved the military and political leaders responding to a mock nuclear crisis.
His suggestions, were supported during the session by two of Britain’s most highly regarded Russia experts, James Sherr, associate fellow at Chatham House, and Chris Donnelly, director the Institute for Statecraft. In a separate session with the Defence Select Committee, Philip Hammond told MPs that the Government was not considering such a move.
· Answers to written questions
· Shipbuilding industry in Scotland will die if country becomes independent
· NATO should rebuild 5,000-strong response force in Baltics, says top British General
· Hammond warns against further cuts to the armed forces
· MOD to establish ‘world class’ rehab centre for injured personnel
Answers to written questions
· Labour MP Paul Flynn asked the Secretary of State for Defence for what reasons the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for International Security Strategy approved the proposals to limit contractor liability at HMNB Clyde to £100,000 despite objections.
Defence Minister Dr Andrew Murrison said that the work is an essential enabler in allowing the MOD to deliver its projects and estate maintenance requirements on estates where nuclear assets are sited.
Murrison said it is the MOD’s intent to limit the contractor’s liability at HMNB Clyde to £100,000. He said that since no commercial contractor could reasonably be expected to assume total liabilities or to be able to insure against them, such a liability can only be borne by the state.
· Scottish National Party MP Angus Robertson asked the Defence Secretary, with reference to the £72.3 billion allocated in the Defence and Equipment Plan 2013 supporting existing in-service equipment, how much of that allocation is devoted to (a) nuclear propulsion and (b) nuclear weapons.
Defence Minister Philip Dunne said of the £72.3 billion referred to in the 2013 Equipment Plan the MOD plans to allocate the support of in-service equipment over the next decade, £1.6 billion is for nuclear propulsion and £13.0 billion for maintaining the Trident Strategic Weapons System, including costs associated with the nuclear warhead.
Shipbuilding industry in Scotland will die if country becomes independent
The Financial Times reports that the shipbuilding industry in Scotland will die if the country becomes independent. Representatives from four of the five big military contractors told MPs on the Scotland Select Committee that they expect the UK government to pull out of shipbuilding on the Clyde river and elsewhere in Scotland, if it separates from the union. The newspaper highlights that the warning echoes comments by Sir Roger Carr, chairman of BAE Systems, who has said he does not expect Britain to build its next generation of warships in Scotland if it is not part of the same country.
The representatives said that commercial projects were unlikely to fill the gap because countries in emerging markets with lower labour costs were more likely to win such work. Kenny Jordan, the Unite union’s district secretary at Babcock International, estimated independence could put 20,000 jobs at risk in defence companies and the supply chain. Henry Wilson, who represents BAE workers said that a Yes vote would result in the cancellation of BAE’s planned £270 million investment in building warships on the Clyde.
Scottish ministers have said work would continue at yards such as Govan and Scotstoun, where the UK’s next aircraft carriers are being built – and where Westminster plans to have a new generation of frigates constructed. However, the Scottish National Party has said it would scale back defence spending if Scotland voted for independence, making it less viable to continue the sorts of shipbuilding projects being undertaken at present. It has also said it would refuse to house the UK’s nuclear deterrent at its base in Faslane, which would have further implications for Scottish jobs. However, the FT has suggested that shipbuilding on the Clyde will continue in some form, partly because BAE has its most advanced resources in the Govan yard.
Hammond warns against further cuts to the armed forces
The Daily Telegraph reports that former First Sea Lord, Lord West of Spithead, has said that cuts to the Royal Navy’s fleet have gone too far and are a “national disgrace”. Lord West, a Labour peer, said the UK had been left with too few ships to escort naval convoys and warned that vital supply ships, such as liquefied natural gas carriers which sail from Qatar, were unprotected. Lord West also warned that the possibility of Scottish independence poses the greatest security and defence threat to the UK. He said that Scottish independence would diminish the UK’s ability to defend itself but said he did not blame anyone for the situation potentially emerging.
The MOD has dismissed Lord West’s warnings and said that the Royal Navy was still a powerful force, highlighting the recent role the Navy has played in the international search for MH370 and the removal of chemical weapons from Syria.
MOD to establish ‘world class’ rehab centre for injured personnel
The MOD reports that a £300 million investment will be made into world-class defence rehabilitation services current delivered at Headley Court move to a new purpose-built location at Standford Hall, near Loughborough. The new facility will be four times the size of Headly Court and will improve and advance the cutting-edge treatments already available to injured members of the armed forces. The new defence rehabilitation centre will provide immediate access to on-site patient diagnosis and treatment plans, greater advances in medical research and better outdoor facilities to support early stages of recovery. It’s planned that the new Defence and National Rehabilitation Centre will open its doors at the end of 2017.