SEA BREEZES SEPTEMBER 2010 • VOL 84 • NO. 777
Who would want to change places with the Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox? Already taxed with making savings in the Defence Budget of circa 15/20%, he has now been told by the Chancellor, George Osborne, that the capital cost of the replacement of Britain’s nuclear deterrent (the Trident nuclear submarine fleet) will not be borne by the Treasury, but will have to come out of the MOD’s Defence Budget.
This ridiculous ruling by Osborne (no doubt backed by the PM) makes drastic cuts to our fighting forces and their equipment not only likely, but unavoidable. The Royal Navy alone will now be threatened with fleet reductions, possibly having to reduce/abort its already commenced aircraft carrier building programme, and a reduction in the number of nuclear submarines (the present Trident fleet numbers four). This government should be strongly reminded that Britain remains an Island nation dependent on its trading links and the merchant ships that serve them – these have to be properly defended. Dr Fox and his Chief of Defence staff, Sir David Richards, should prepare for battle against this Treasury decision.
To my mind, admittedly as a ‘grumpy old man’, one of our problems today is that very few of our MPs (including the Prime Minister, his deputy and the Chancellor) have very much life/work experience outside politics. Few indeed have served in our armed forces or the Merchant Navy, yet not too many years ago the House of Commons had many members who had served in the forces – Edward Heath, James Callaghan, Denis Healey, Willie Whitelaw, Francis Pym and Airey Neave to name but a few. They brought to the Commons a better understanding of the need to properly fund our forces in line with our global and national responsibilities and aspirations.
Following the General Election, our new Shipping Minister is Mike Penning, Conservative MP for Hemel Hempstead. We wish him well in his new post.
Sea Breezes will have a stand at the London Ship Show in the Galleon Suite at the Royal National Hotel, Bloomsbury, London on Saturday 30th October – do come along and meet us there.
Captain Hamish A C Ross (Editor)