After press speculation that the Government was starting to row back on its policy of reducing training for the TA, Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox was granted an Urgent Question on the topic by the Speaker at 3.30pm this afternoon.

PoliticsHome records defence minister Bill Rammell as telling MPs that "the MoD would
not be pursuing a 6 month hiatus in training for units not deployed in
Afghanistan, as part of a £20m cut to the TA budget and that instead, funding
will be provided for monthly training sessions to take place".

In response, Dr Fox wanted to know the answer to "three simple questions":

"First, the Government has previously said that they ‘always finance our military commitments overseas out of the reserve'. The Secretary of State stated during the debate last week that: ‘we are adjusting the core defence budget to reprioritise Afghanistan.’ Some of us are surprised that it’s not already the No.1 priority, but if it is fully funded from the Reserve, why are they cutting the core budget of the TA by £43m?

“Secondly, we know that due to the recession and the major recruitment drive in the past year there are more recruits in the Regular Army than there is money to train them. The Government have demanded savings from other places within the Army to fund this.  Why did the Government not plan to fund its own target numbers for recruitment—especially in a war?

“Thirdly, does the Government really understand the ethos of volunteering or the effect this could have on future available numbers? For many the TA is a habit: break the habit, break the TA.

He concluded:

“Pre-deployment training is only of use if you have the numbers to start with. Is it not the case that pre-deployment training is meant to augment and not supplant routine TA training, so routine training is just as important as pre–deployment training? Whether an individual is deploying on operations or not, regular and routine training is required to ensure medium and long term readiness levels in the TA for any future deployments to Afghanistan or somewhere else unforeseen.”

Jonathan Isaby

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