Monday, September 7, 2009
Royal Navy and RAF 'outnumbered by MoD civil servants'
From The Sunday Times
September 7, 2009
The Ministry of Defence is overstuffed with civil servants who outnumber the combined manpower of the Royal Navy and the RAF, the Shadow Defence Secretary said today.
Sixteen per cent of the Civil Service now reside in the MoD, Liam Fox said. Pledging that a Conservative government would tackle the imbalance between uniform and non-uniform personnel, Dr Fox said: “How can it be that while we have a Navy of only 34,000 we have almost 24,000 people working in procurement alone?”
Radical reform is needed at the MoD, Dr Fox said, speaking at the launch of the Jane’s 2009 Defence Systems and Equipment International exhibition in London.
Labour and the Conservatives have announced that they would hold a strategic defence review of Britain’s military commitments and capabilities whoever wins the general election next year. Dr Fox outlined how a Conservative government would approach the review and indicated that one of the first steps would be to downsize the MoD.
“Currently there is one civilian for every two Armed Forces personnel in the MoD, it is time for the MoD to get its house in order,” he said.
The current trend was that the military was shrinking at the same time as the Civil Service kept growing, he said.
However, the military would also be scrutinised. “There are questions for all Services as to whether they have an overabundance of senior posts,” he said.
One of the key areas in the review, Dr Fox said, would be the MoD’s equipment-buying system. Bernard Gray, a former adviser at the MoD, has written a report, yet to be published, which reveals that the defence equipment programme is underfunded by £35 billion and is running an of average five years behind schedule.
“Expected cost overruns in the next ten years alone amount to £16 billion [which] equates to unfunded liability of £4.4 million per day,” Dr Fox said.
“With headline equipment programmes utterly unmatched by funding, future defence procurement becomes little more than a child’s wish list to Santa Claus.
“The defence and security of the United Kingdom is increasingly being run on a wing and a prayer and, as the money has failed to materialise for the unfunded projects, so they are delayed and delayed with the taxpayer left to foot the bill and the military left to ponder their absent capabilities.”
The party in office after the election would find itself with a military that is “overstretched, undermanned and in possession of worn-out equipment, and the worst peacetime public finances in our history”.
In one policy pledge, Dr Fox said that a Conservative government would reinstate the MoD’s defence export sales organisation which was scrapped in 2007.
He added: “For too long defence has been at the bottom of this Government’s priorities, we have had four defence secretaries in four years, one of whom was part-time." The Tories say that when Des Browne was appointed Defence Secretary and Scottish Secretary, he was unable to devote all his energies to defence.