Luke Pollard MP Member of Parliament for Plymouth Sutton and Devonport
- Secretary of State for Defence announces Defence Review 6 months after original date, 12 months after it was announced
- Future of Plymouth’s Royal Marines continues to hang in balance
- Luke Pollard MP will continue to campaign for Devonport’s future in light of uncertainty
Today Devonport’s MP has slammed the government’s much-delayed Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) document. The Secretary of State for Defence, Gavin Williamson MP announced the Defence Review 6 months after it was originally intended to be published.
The Defence Review includes no new money even though the funding gap in Defence equipment alone is between £7 billion and £15 billion. Furthermore, 84% of the MOD funding gap is to occur in the next 4 years. The MDP document was supposed to set out the strategic priorities for the Government and detail capabilities the country would be investing in and the difficult decisions the funding shortfall would mean.
The 26 page document includes six pages of photographs and delivers very little detail about the future of UK defence.
Luke Pollard MP said:
“We had been promised that this plan would be a comprehensive look at the future shape and configuration of our armed forces, but what we have instead is a brochure full of glossy photos and waffle.
Plymouth’s armed forces were waiting for this report to provide clarity for their future. But there is nothing in this plan that rules out cuts to the Royal Marines and there is nothing in this plan that confirms Plymouth will be home to the much needed Royal Marine superbase. In the Commons I questioned the Defence Secretary whether it was still his plan to keep the Royal Marines based in Plymouth but he could not confirm this. That was the second time in a row in the Commons that the Defence Secretary has ducked that question. Having successfully fought against Tory plans to scrap HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark we now need to focus efforts to protect the Royal Marines. I want to see no further cuts to the Royal Navy or the Royal Marines.
What is clear from today is that the Government has no plan to solve the MOD’s woeful mismanagement of its budget. There remains a £15bn blackhole in the equipment plan and cuts to capabilities are being stored up in the future as Ministers seek headlines today. This plan does not deliver what Ministers promised and that means the uncertainty around the future of the Royal Marines continues.
As Devonport’s MP, the Defence Review doesn’t give the certainty on our Armed Forces that we need. It doesn’t guarantee the future of Royal Marines, it doesn’t guarantee a way forward in submarine recycling, nor is there certainty around refits for Devonport that as a city we are looking for. As a city we have seen off attempts to scrap HMS Albion and Bulwark, but government Ministers got their way and sold HMS Ocean to Brazil. The experience of the last year shows Devonport won’t get what we’re due without a fight and Plymouth’s campaigns on Defence need to continue in light of this continuing and unhelpful uncertainty.”
Nia Griffith MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, responding to the publication of the government’s Defence Review ‘Mobilising, Modernising & Transforming Defence: A report on the Modernising Defence Programme’, said:
“This review completely fails to get to grips with the affordability crisis in the MoD.
After months of delay, and endless reports of the Defence Secretary’s spats with his Cabinet colleagues, we are none the wiser as to how he will close the funding gap in his Department. At a time when our country faces growing security challenges, it is grossly irresponsible for Conservative Ministers to simply stick their heads in the sand.
Labour has a plan to support our UK industry and maximise the UK’s defence capability for the future.”