» Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Territorial Army

Asked what had changed since Bill Rammell’s speech about Territorial Army (TA) funding cuts, the PMS replied that the context around the Ministry of Defence budget, which sat at 35.4bn pounds this year, was that it had experienced the longest period of sustained growth for 20 years. The PMS said, in real terms, by the end of the next financial year that would be an 11 percent rise compared to 1997 levels. He said the Prime Minister was focussed on the highest priority of making sure the mission in Afghanistan was a success and troops were properly resourced and equipped. The PMS said the TA plays an important role in the military, including on operations in Afghanistan and the Prime Minister has a very high regard for the TA’s work. The PMS said in regard to savings on the TA budget, it had been the Prime Minister, together with the Chief of the General Staff, the Defence Secretary and the Chancellor who had decided Treasury resources could be found to ensure normal training for TA members continue.

Asked repeatedly what made the Prime Minister change his mind, the PMS said the Prime Minister had the opportunity to personally review the change in the TA budget and in consultation with the Defence Secretary, the Chief of the General Staff and the Chancellor he made the decision that it would be right to protect the TA budget. The PMS said it was the Prime Minister’s prerogative to look and intervene, with his colleagues, into any budgetary item. The PMS said there was an ongoing review, as in all departments, of operational efficiencies.

Put that the Prime Minister had not realised what was occurring to the TA budget, the PMS said there are many issues that the Prime Minister was called to make decisions on, this was a decision that he had recently looked at in consultation with colleagues. The PMS said the TA’s excellent work would continue and the Afghanistan campaign would continue to benefit from TA support.

Asked if the Prime Minister initially approved the 20m funding cut, the PMS replied the Prime Minister would not, by definition, be aware of every budget proposal in every department. The PMS said TA funding had been of interest in the last few weeks, it was understandable that at some stage the Prime Minister would wish to focus on it personally.

Asked why Prime Minister hadn’t responded to David Cameron’s query on the TA, the PMS said the Prime Minister had written to David Cameron on TA funding in Afghanistan to reassure him there would be no change to TA members training and deployment.

Asked if the Prime Minister had been made aware of the TA budget cuts in Cabinet, the PMS replied that Cabinet meetings would not be discussed in detail with the assembled press. The PMS said the sequencing around the decision had come together in the last few days and that within the context of a 35.4bn Defence budget, operational efficiencies applied not just to the TA but to all parts of the Ministry of Defence.

Asked where the savings would be made if no longer being cut from the TA budget, the PMS said the Treasury had allocated new money for this programme and that the Ministry of Defence would continue conducting a review of operational efficiencies.

Asked what role John Reid had played in the decision, the PMS replied that the Prime Minister had spoken with John Reid and that as a former Defence Secretary, the Prime Minister respected his views. He said although the Prime Minister listened to many experts on a wide range of issues, ultimately however, the Prime Minister made his own decisions.

original source.

Briefing took place at 10:00 | Search for related news

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