Jane has written to Ben Wallace MP, Secretary of State for Defence, pressing him to give clear answers about reported Conservative plans to cut the armed forces - contrary to what they pledged in their December manifesto.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing to you following the very alarming reports of proposed plans to cut the size of our Armed Forces - outlined in the Sunday Times yesterday.
As I am sure you are aware, Wales has a long and proud tradition in our Armed Forces, dating back to the establishment of the 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards in 1685.
At present, there are over 3,000 military and civilian personnel based in Wales, with over 60 MoD establishments and bases, as well as the UKs third largest military training area in Sennybridge.
I am deeply concerned about the effect a massive reduction in our Armed Forces would have on both our standing in the world and communities here in Wales.
Both Brecon and Cawdor are longstanding barracks towns, with the military forming a key part of the local community and economy. Indeed, the 160th Infantry Brigade, based at Brecon, form an integral part of our town and losing them would have major consequences for both Brecon and the surrounding area.
The Welsh Liberal Democrats have long led the campaign to save Brecon Barracks from closure, but I fear cuts to the scale of those outlined in the Sunday Times - a reduction of almost 20,000 army servicemen and women - would undo all of this work and significantly reduce the MoD’s presence in Wales.
I am sure I do not need to remind you of your own Manifesto from December, which committed you to “increase the budget by 0.5% above inflation each year of the new parliament”, or the Prime Minister’s promise on 24th November, that your party would “not cut the Armed Forces in any form".
Therefore, I would like to pose the following questions to you.
- Does the UK Government have any plans in discussion which would reduce the size of our Armed Forces?
- Do you agree that a major reduction in our Armed Forces now, at a time of global instability, would reduce our world standing and weaken our national security?
- Do you accept that any cuts to our Armed Forces goes against the very manifesto your Government was elected on just 8 months ago?
- Should the Prime Minister’s Special Advisor, an unelected role, be making key decisions about Government policy independent of the Cabinet?
I would also like to seek your assurances that:
- Any discussions around a reduction in the size of our Armed Forces will include the Welsh Government, given the knock-on effect on Welsh communities.
- Any move to reduce the size of our Armed Forces will be subject to full Parliamentary scrutiny, including the Defence Select Committee, before enactment.
I look forward to receiving your urgent reply on this important issue.
Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats