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Redundancies (Armed Forces)

Volume 540: debated on Monday 20 February 2012

Personnel are selected for redundancy by selection boards that are convened by each service. The boards assess evidence contained in individuals’ appraisal reports against selection criteria, which include performance, potential experience, qualifications and the relevance of their skill sets to the future needs of the service. The services will select applicants where possible, but they may select non-applicants where that is necessary to ensure that the right balance of skills is maintained across the rank structures.

I commend the Minister for the resettlement package that the Government are putting together, but I would like to highlight one anomaly. Some servicemen and women serving in Europe—for example, in Norway, Italy and France—and administered by the European support group have no access to funding for travelling back to the United Kingdom for their resettlement packages. I ask him to look into the matter and ensure that all our servicemen and women are treated equally.

I thank my hon. Friend for raising this important matter. I think that exceptions can be made. If he would like to write to me on the matter, I will write back with the details. I understand that a small number of people are affected, and we should certainly look after them properly.

Will the Minister be kind enough to tell us how many military service personnel who have been made redundant were within a year of pensionable age?

In answer to the shadow Secretary of State, it is quite complicated. However, I can say that the immediate pension that people might have earned after 22 years is now available after 18 years, so anyone made redundant within four years of the immediate pension date will receive the immediate pension straight away.

As the Army is reduced to the size it was at the time of the Boer war, although there is to be no reduction in the number of Ministers, does the Minister accept that it would be untenable for any member of 16 Air Assault Brigade, who could have served in up to three deployments to Helmand province, to be made compulsorily redundant?

The decisions made on 16 Air Assault Brigade and elsewhere are quite rightly made by the individual services, not Ministers. Also, we believe that our fighting capabilities are somewhat greater than they were during the Boer war.

An internal MOD document states that the Department considers the UK force structure to be

“out of proportion with modern working practices”.

With the reduction in the number of armed forces personnel, why is the Minister doing nothing to correct the top-heavy force structure and the imbalance by making cuts across all ranks?

I know that the hon. Gentleman is an avid reader of Hansard. If he goes back to about 1994, he will see that I raised this matter then in the House of Commons—I have been here too long. He is right that there is a disproportionate number of senior officers. They are excellent people, but we are looking to reduce that disproportionate number so that there are fewer senior officers in relation to bayonets on the ground.