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Parliamentary Report w/c 20th January

By DPF Admin30th January 2014Latest News

The Times reports that the National Audit Office will be asked to investigate the multimillion-pound IT project which has failed to provide an adequate recruitment platform for the MOD. The original budget for the project was £10 million and the newspaper says that the MOD has the option of either spending an extra £43 million on trying to rescue the system, or to switch to another solution at an additional cost of £47.7 million. The Times says the project’s failure has had a huge effect on recruitment; the Army will suffer a 30 per cent shortfall in regular recruits this financial year to April and a 57 per cent shortfall in required numbers for the Army Reserve.

Contents

  • Answers to written questions on AWE Burghfield
  • Joint Committee on Human Rights says terrorism measures need to be urgently reviewed
  • Fourth tranche of redundancies announced by the Defence Secretary

Answers to written question on AWE Burghfield

  • Liberal Democrat MP Sir Nick Harvey asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many MDP officers were under investigation in 2013 for neglect of duties at the Atomic Weapons Establishment; how many such officers have since faced disciplinary action; how many such officers have resigned from the force since being notified of investigation; what steps he is taking to review police management standards at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, Burghfield; and if he will make a statement.

Defence Minister for Personnel Anna Soubry MP replied that all MDP officers are expected to perform their duties to the highest standard at all times. She said that any failure in such standards is taken very seriously and that 44 MDP officers at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) Burghfield are currently subject to a police misconduct investigation which commenced in late 2013. The Minister said that this investigation concerns allegations of officers failing to complete their duties correctly and that seven officers have resigned during the course of this investigation. She also said that a number of changes to practice were put in place immediately.

Ms Soubry went on to say that it would be inappropriate to comment further on an on-going misconduct investigation and said that MDP management standards at AWE Burghfield are being reviewed as part of the investigation and any actions considered appropriate will be taken forward as part of a formal management action programme.

  • Sir Nick asked the Secretary of State for Defence when emergency flood defences have been deployed at the AWE Burghfield since the flood event of July 2007

Defence Minister for Equipment, Support and Technology Philip Dunne MP replied that since July 2007, emergency flood defences have been deployed 26 times at AWE Burghfield. He said that 13 deployments followed weather warnings and 13 routine deployments were made to ensure preparedness during periods of site closure, such as holiday periods. Mr Dunne provided a table with further information.

As we mentioned earlier this week, it’s likely that, as former defence minister, Sir Nick’s motive for tabling these questions is from personal curiosity over defence matters rather than an external prompt. We have provided here the second question Sir Nick asked on AWE Burghfield, which supports this suggestion. As we have previously noted, at this stage we do not think it would be useful to approach Sir Nick for a meeting: he would likely wish to focus on this particular incident and we would not be able to add anything to the information he has received from the Minister. While we wouldn’t expect this question or the Minister’s response to be picked up by the media, we have the agreed statement in place should we get any enquiries.

We will continue to monitor Parliament for any further developments on this issue and we will keep the agreed statement on standby should we get any inquiries from this.

Joint Committee on Human Rights says terrorism measures need to be urgently reviewed

The House of Commons and House of Lords Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a report which says that Terrorism Prevention and Investigation Measures (TPIMs) may be “withering on the vine” as a counter-terrorism tool of practical utility. It says that it has failed to find any evidence that TPIMs have led to an increase in criminal arrests for terrorism and concludes that in 2015, the new Government must urgently address the role and effectiveness of these measures within the context of a broader review of counter-terrorism powers.

The Guardian says that almost eight current orders under TPIMs are to expire shortly under a two-year limit imposed when they were introduced in 2011. Suspects under TPIMs face a wide range of restrictions including overnight residence at a specified address, electronic tagging, tracking of movements and restrictions on travel, communications, finances, associations, work and study. TPIMs were introduced to meet a coalition commitment to get rid of control orders. 

The Committee said the powers had no effectiveness in an investigative situation, but were useful in terror prevention. However, Committee Chair Dr Hywel Francis said that even as preventative measures TPIMs seemed to be “going out of favour with the agencies” and added that there was insufficient public information to make a proper judgement whether the power to impose TPIMs was still required. Dr Francis concluded “the next government will need to look again at these measures within the context of counter-terrorism powers more generally”.

Fourth tranche of redundancies announced by the Defence Secretary

Details of the fourth and final set of armed forces redundancies have been announced by the Defence Secretary. The reduction in personnel has been planned for several years and the redundancies are the last of four rounds which were announced in the strategic defence and security review in October 2010. The MOD said that with the details of the final tranche announced, it marks “the end of uncertainty” facing military personnel.

The fourth tranche of redundancies will consist of approximately 1,500 personnel, with over 1,400 to come from the Army. The MOD says that there is a robust resettlement process and a “generous” tax-free payment in place for those selected for redundancy. The Express newspaper reports that the Department is aiming for two thirds of the redundancies to be Voluntary.

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