MPs back govt on army plans

The Government has won a Commons vote on its plans to reorganise the Army. Rebels, supported by Labour, fear the changes will leave the UK short of essential troops and want a pause for the coalition to reconsider.

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Tactical concessions ensured Government victory

by - Political Correspondent

The Government was concerned about this at one stage, especially as Labour were voting with the rebels.

But in the end they won by a fairly comfortable - if reduced - majority of 54.

There was some fairly efficient tactical skirmishing to pick off rebels one by one with concessions, the most important of which is that they will have to now report to Parliament about how the reserves are functioning in the years ahead.

But a victory for the Government tonight and their reforms go forward.

Commons vote backs Government's Army plans

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond defended the Government's plans to reorganise the Army and said there was no turning back Credit: PA

The Government has won a Commons vote on its plans to reorganise the Army.

Tory Rebels, supported by Labour, tabled an amendment calling for a pause for the coalition to reconsider.

But the Government won the vote comfortably by 306 votes to 252 - a majority of 54.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said that despite opposition to the plans, Britain "cannot go back", and the reorganisation would take place.

A tweet from Labour Whips said it looked like 12 Tories and 1 Lib Dem rebel voted against the Government.

MPs vote on army plans is likely to be 'very close'

by - Political Correspondent

This is very close, so close that yesterday the Defence Secretary Philip Hammond wrote to potential Tory rebels asking them not to hand Labour this victory.

Today, the MoD has offered a concession, it says it will bring in an annual report to Parliament on the state of the reserves but I'm not sure it's going to be enough to buy-off many rebels.

What they want is a report at the end of this process that they can vote on and they want to be able to hold up the whole thing if they don't think it's working.

There are a lot of people here who are concerned that the regular army has been run down before the reserve force has been built up and they're not all convinced by Hammond's reassurances that he will get the number of reserves he needs in place.

It's going to be an interesting afternoon

Hammond urges Tory MPs not to 'throw roadblocks'

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has urged Tory backbenchers to give his plan for recruiting more than 10,000 Army reservists a chance, instead of "throwing roadblocks".

Responding to accusations that recruitment targets for the Army Reserve have been missed, he said it was still early days and that he would not tolerate a halt in that process.

He also accused opposition parties of exploiting a Tory rebellion for political advantage.

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What are the main aims of the Army 2020 plan?

A group of backbench Tory MPs are planning to vote on a rebel amendment which could delay the government's plan to reduce the number of regular soldiers in the Army.

The main aims of Army 2020 are as follows:

  • Army to be reduced from 102,000 to 82,000 by 2020
  • Army Reserve (new name for the Territorial Army) numbers to increase from 19,000 to 30,000 by 2018

This is part of the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review which aims to plug £38 billion hole in the defence budget.

Reversing Army reorganisation 'would be destabilising'

The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, has said that a Tory rebellion to stop cuts to the numbers of regulars in the armed forces would have a "destabilising" effect.

We are well on our way to implementing this plan. To reverse course at this stage would be destabilising and damaging.

Increasing and rebuilding the Army Reserve is crucial to delivering the fighting force of the future.

To do otherwise would leave a gap in our capability and deprive talented young people of an opportunity to benefit from military service.

– General Sir Peter Wall

Read: Army 'will not have the manpower' after cuts, warns MP

Army 'will not have the manpower' after cuts, warns MP

Plans to plug the gap in army personnel numbers created by the austerity programme will leave Britain vulnerable to attack as "we haven't got the manpower", warned a former army colonel.

Rebel Tory MP Bob Stewart told Daybreak there would be "a gap of three years" before the Territorial Army came in to relieve pressure on a stretched army.

"We are going to be getting rid of, for example, four infantry battalions by the end of next year, then there as a gap of three years before the reservists come in and we haven't got the manpower."

MP rebellion on army vote would 'hit morale'

A backbench Tory rebellion over plans to expand the Territorial Reserves would "hit morale among existing forces", hinder future recruitment and "confuse employers", the defence secretary has said.

MPs will vote on an amendment which would force future defence secretaries to report to Parliament on the "viability and cost effectiveness" of their plans and how they intend to implement them.They would need the approval of both the House of Commons and Lords to go ahead with plans.

I hope colleagues will support the Government in resisting John's amendment. To do otherwise will not only give a significant fillip to the Labour Party but more significantly would risk serious damage to our future armed forces.

Furthermore, there is a very significant risk that halting, or threatening to halt, the implementation of measures in the Reserves White Paper would hit morale among the existing reserve forces, confuse employers, and make future recruitment a much more difficult task.

– Defence secretary Philip Hammond
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