During the past month Parliament has passed the Defence Reform Act, the legislation setting the stage for the MOD to utilise the private sector in its equipment and materiel procurement. The Act was initially intended to transform Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) to a so-called ‘GoCo’ (Government-owned, company-operated) model, in which a private sector provider or collaboration of private sector providers would take over the running of DE&S.
The legislation has not gone so far as to entirely transfer procurement to the private sector, due to various issues with the potential service providers. However, the legislation does allow for the MOD to consider a GoCo model for procurement in the future. The role of the MDP is referenced in the Act but will be unaffected.
A number of national newspapers have also reported during the past month that hundreds of Home Office police officers have failed fitness tests that will be become compulsory following the Winsor Report. Interim results submitted by 39 constabularies to the College of Policing have shown that 851 officers failed to reach the required standard on a 15 metre bleep test. However, much of the media’s attention during the past month has focused on the Police Federation’s annual conference, which was addressed by Home Secretary Theresa May. In a much highly publicised and highly contentious speech, Mrs May insisted that the Police Federation must reform and announced the end of it receiving public funding.
The move was widely reported in positive terms across the national media, reigniting speculation amongst political commentators about Mrs May’s potential to succeed David Cameron as either Conservative Party leader or Prime Minister.
With Parliament awaiting the Queen’s Speech on 4 June, much of the attention of MPs and the political parties has been on local and European elections, with the big winners in both being UKIP. Leader Nigel Farage has insisted that his party will mount a strong challenge during next year’s General Election. In contrast, Labour figures have aimed significant criticism at Ed Miliband for a lack lustre campaign, while the Liberal Democrats suffered heavy losses that sparked speculation over the future of leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg (whose position has since been bolstered by the failed but high profile manoeuvrings of Lord Oakeshott).
The Conservatives suffered losses but have nevertheless largely unified themselves under David Cameron following a series of positive stories regarding the economy.
The Defence Police Federation has continued its preparations for its annual conference, which takes place this month. We have confirmed the attendance of both Defence Minister Anna Soubry MP and Shadow Defence Minister Gemma Doyle. We have also begun contacting Parliamentary supporters and those MPs and Peers with an interest in defence policy, to ensure their awareness of the MDP in advance of next year’s Defence Review and to highlight the importance of the MDP’s role in securing the defence estate.
The political approach
The Federation has continued to liaise with the MOD regarding terms and conditions of officers and officers’ pension entitlements and is in the process of arranging a follow-up meeting with the Minister.
At this meeting we will be repeating our concerns regarding the need for officers to be subject to different pension provisions and not to the State Pension Age. We have also communicated to the Minister that we have had limited contact with her officials, and will now be meeting with civil servants ahead of the Federation’s annual conference later this month.
As noted above, we have been contacting Parliamentary supporters and those MPs and Members of the House of Lords with an interest in defence policy. The purpose of these contacts is to ensure that Parliamentarians remain fully briefed as to the importance of the MDP, its role in the securing the MOD’s estate and assets, and the challenges officers have faced since the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010. With a new Defence Review expected next year we are acutely aware of the need to ensure Parliamentarians are fully briefed on the role of the MDP and Federation, addressing arguments being put forward by alternative MOD security providers and highlighting the dangers of further cuts – both in terms of budget and personnel – to the MDP.
These are also issues that will be reflected in keynote speeches made during the Federation’s upcoming annual conference.
We have additionally made a submission to the Labour Party’s review of defence policy in advance of the General Election in 2015. The Federation was invited to make a submission (regarding matters related to the wellbeing of Armed Forces personnel) following regular communication with the Opposition defence team. The submission represents an important act on the part of the Federation to ensure that officers’ concerns, and concerns relating to national security, are considered by the Labour Party in the run-up to the General Election.
We have contacted the newly appointed defence and security correspondent at The Guardian to introduce him to the MDP and work of the Federation. We will be following up with this journalist, and contacts from across the national media, in advance of the Federation’s annual conference
We would recommend that members refrain from contacting their local MPs at present while dialogue with the MOD and Cabinet Office on the subjects of terms and conditions of service and pension provisions is on-going, but would remind any member wishing to contact their MP that any correspondence is subject to MDP regulations.