Jim Murphy response to Armed Forces Basing plan statement5 March 2013
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Jim Murphy MP, Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary, in response to the Basing plan statement in the House of Commons today, said:
While there is much less strategic need for our Forces to be based in Germany, it can still play an important role in providing training facilities. How does the Secretary of State envisage this function being supplemented if it is no longer available there?
There will be real disappointment at closures across the UK today, from Canterbury, Ripon, Shrewsbury to Brawdy, where historic bonds are being broken.
The Secretary of State says that his disposal plans will bring in substantial receipts which have already been factored in to future budgets. After the Government’s 4G debacle, he will forgive these benches if we wait for further detail before taking that on face value.
On Scotland, Mr Speaker, the Armed Forces remain crucial to Scotland's future but today the government has reneged on its promise. While there is positive news about the return of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and the Royal Marines staying in Arbroath, a pledge of thousands of troops to Scotland has become a plan for just hundreds. This is a body blow to Scotland and won't be forgotten.
Mr Speaker, UK Defence Planning Assumptions rely on doubling our number of Reservists by 2018. Despite this, there is uncertainty over employer engagement, workplace protections and missed recruitment targets. It is disappointing that today we heard little of where Reserve units will train or of the fate of existing units. The Army 2020 plan around which today’s announcement is based remains in jeopardy while these issues are unresolved.
Mr Speaker, UK troops have been stationed in Germany for almost 70 years and we support their return home but this will – as he would expect – be matched by detailed scrutiny.
I hope the Secretary of State will be able to further outline the implications of today’s announcement for personnel and their families, as well as local communities - who will I am sure give them a warm and patriotic welcome upon their return.