Defence Minister Kevan Jones is to meet with union leaders regarding the looming review of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, reports the Portsmouth Evening News.
In October RFA personnel were informed that the Ministry of Defence would be conducting a ‘value-for-money’ review, just two years after the last review had supposedly made the RFA safe for 20 years.
The union, Nautilus, have argued that the RFA is being unfairly treated. The MOD in turn has admitted that the review has been prompted by pressure from the Treasury, after being lobbied by private shipping firms who have spare capacity during the recession.
Mr Jones assured Nautilus that the review would be carried out, ‘with no preconceived outcomes.’ Personally I’m not sure how this can be, given the pressure from the Treasury and the over-riding need to cut public spending. And as has been seen in the past, the Government will have no scruples about compromising national interest for private profits. It is highly unlikely that the ‘shipping firms’ in question are truly British in any case, so any business that would be generated for the commercial sector would leave the country anyway.
Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson said: ‘We are confident that the RFA can yet again demonstrate its unrivalled efficiency and professionalism, but it is important that the ministers understand our concerns about the dangers of taking a simplistic short-term approach to the way the RFA is operated’.
In times of recession and burgeoning public sector debt, it is inevitable that cuts have to be made. But defence policy should not be driven by private shipping firms with profits in mind. And whilst Defence spending should never be allowed to get out of control, the 1920’s and 1930’s showed the folly of a Treasury driven Defence policy. And the Nott cuts in the early 1980’s, driven by Margaret Thatcher’s desire to slash public spending, very nearly prevented any kind of reaction to the Falklands crisis.