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Policy & Press – July

By DPF Admin6th July 2015August 6th, 2019Area Updates, Latest News, Northern Updates, Southern Updates

The focus of the Federation’s work over the past month has been to host and promote its annual conference, and also to continue engagement with parliamentarians following the General Election.

The latter activity has been principally through the booking and organisation of an event in the Palace of Westminster, to take place in mid-July. This will supplement the one-to-one meetings we are continuing to arrange and seek with MPs and Peers, and will provide the Federation with an opportunity to highlight the challenges facing the MDP and officers to an audience of parliamentarians, civil servants and opinion formers.

To support this activity, the Federation recently circulated a toolkit for members’ attention, which included a letter that could be sent to members’ local MPs. We encourage members yet to do so to contact their MPs in order to both raise awareness of the MDP and to encourage attendance at the Federation reception.

Defence policy during the last month has continued to be dominated by discussions over the UK’s levels of defence spending. Numerous experts – both at home and abroad – have insisted that the UK must remain committed to meeting the NATO target of spending two percent of GDP on defence, a target that former Defence Minister Sir Gerald Howarth MP is attempting to get enshrined into law via a Private Members’ Bill.

For its part, the Government has endeavoured to demonstrate it is achieving the two percent target by including spending outside the MoD budget (including some elements of international development aid spending) within its calculations. However, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has made clear that he will expect the MoD to find a further £500 million in savings. This has potential implications for the MDP, given that the Government had previously committed to ring-fencing the MoD equipment budget. Equally, there will be considerable pressure on the Government to limit the impact of budget cuts on the Armed Forces (The Sun has now launched a manifesto calling for better support for the Armed Forces).

The news has also, tragically, been dominated by news of the terrorist attack in Tunisia. This has included the national media highlighting Government efforts to ensure public security within the UK. The Defence Police Federation of course extends its deepest sympathies and condolences to all those killed, injured or affected by the attack, and to their families.

The political approach

As noted above, the two focuses of the Federation’s political and parliamentary activity during the last month have been its annual conference and the organisation of an event to take place in the Palace of Westminster later this month.

The Federation’s annual conference provided an opportunity for National Chairman Eamon Keating to highlight concerns at the potential impact of the Strategic Defence and Security Review on the MDP – also noting that cuts to budget and personnel following the 2010 Review had left the MDP without capacity for further reductions.

Unfortunately, Mark Lancaster MP (Minister for Defence Personnel and Welfare) was unable to attend conference due to parliamentary business, but sent his apologies. Mr Lancaster has subsequently agreed in principle (and subject to any urgent ministerial business) to attending the Federation’s parliamentary reception, which will take place on 14 July.

The Federation is extremely grateful to Madeleine Moon MP for sponsoring the reception. Its purpose is to follow-up on previous engagement with parliamentarians and to provide MPs and Peers with either an introduction or re-introduction to the Federation and to the work of the MDP. This is an important step in the Federation’s communication with Westminster, as it is fundamental that MPs are aware of the MDP and its importance to national security ahead of the publication of the SDSR later in the year.

To date, the Federation has confirmed the planned attendance (again subject to any urgent business in parliament) of more than 30 MPs and members of the House of Lords. We remain in continual contact with their offices to encourage further attendance.

Separately, the Federation has continued its work in securing one-to-one meetings with parliamentarians and communicating individually with MPs. This has included communication with Dr Julian Lewis MP, the newly elected Chairman of the Defence Select Committee. Dr Lewis is well aware of the Federation’s work and the role of the Ministry of Defence Police – and prior to the General Election co-signed a letter to the Daily Telegraph calling for changes to the pensions of MDP officers.

Media activity

In the last month, the Federation has continued to engage with the media, including highlighting the annual conference keynote speech of National Chairman Eamon Keating, which was reported in The Herald. The article can be accessed via the link below:

http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/wider-political-news/further-cutbacks-to-mod-police-force-will-weaken-security-at-faslane-w.128656155

The Federation has also met with David Willetts, Defence Editor at The Sun, which recently launched its manifesto to support the Armed Forces and defence community. The DPF will be continuing to communicate with journalists in advance of the publication of the SDSR.

Local lobbying

As noted above, during the past month the Federation has circulated a toolkit to members that included details of how to contact members’ local MPs and a template letter/email for this purpose.

We very much encourage members yet to do so to contact their local MPs. It is critical that as many parliamentarians as possible are fully informed of the role of the MDP ahead of the publication of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, so that any decisions regarding the MDP receive appropriate scrutiny in Westminster.

We would also remind members that any correspondence is subject to regulations, and for this reason recommend sticking as closely as possible to the text of the letter included in the toolkit. The Federation is, as ever, very grateful to those members who have contacted their MP.

DPF HQ

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