Thursday 17 June 2010

Live up to your word Nick Harvey...

This blog chided the previous Government for fighting to avoid paying any compensation to former servicemen who witnessed Britain’s nuclear tests.

Many of them have suffered terrible health problems or have died after being exposed to radiation.

Soldiers from Canada and Australia who witnessed the tests have been given payouts from their respective Governments, yet our Ministry of Defence shamelessly resists.

I’ve no doubt the veterans and their families, around 1,000 of them, will win their case eventually.

But the legal tactics being employed by the MoD is causing the case to become hugely drawn out – meaning many veterans will die before they have a chance to get justice.

It now emerges that in June last year the current Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey made this statement (full version):

“It is high time these people received the long-overdue compensation they deserve for the ill effects they have suffered.

“The MoD cannot justify wasting a penny more on top of the hundreds of thousands they have already spent in fighting legal battles.

“They must immediately put an end to this scandalous, penny-pinching treatment and deliver on their 'duty of care' to our nation's nuclear test veterans.”

He added: “Britain…continues to ignore her veterans and hide behind legislation to deny a fair and democratic hearing in the public domain.”

Yet since becoming a minister we’ve not heard anything on the issue from him.

So come on Mr Harvey – compensation, as you say, is “long overdue”. Now is the time to deliver on your “duty of care” to Britain’s nuclear test veterans.

Let's party at the MoD...

While the troops in Afghanistan have been divvying up the body armour, officials at the Ministry of Defence have found a better use for their budget.

No less than £12m has been spent on “entertainment” by the MoD – that is £4m in each of the last three years.

The figure was dug out by that most hard headed of members Notts MP John Mann.

Defence Minister Andrew Robathan said: “We use official entertainment to pursue UK security policy interests, facilitate a wider public understanding of the armed forces, and enhance professional contacts within the UK and with other nations.”

He added that he expected the amount to decrease over the next three years.

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Clarke admits he got it wrong...

Before the election Ken Clarke claimed a Hung Parliament would be a disaster for the UK.

But confronted with the current situation, he admitted to Lobbydog that he had been wrong.

I suppose he has to given his position in the coalition Government, but it’s always nice to hear a politician admit they were mistaken.

“During the election I was very hostile to the idea of a Hung Parliament and warned against it. I believed that British politicians would not be able to handle it.

“I feared we would have a weak minority Government doing populist things until we had a second election which is what’s happened in the past.”

He said, naturally, that it had been down to the way Cameron and Clegg had performed that the coalition was working, but had a little warning about things getting worse further down the line.

“I’m prepared to say my fears were not justified. I hope it will last, but so far it turns out that my fears were unworthy.

“The test is can it deliver and can it last for the necessary period of time. The answer to both questions I think is yes. But the test will really come when we start doing really difficult things.

“At the moment I find myself in a team of people who are going through a political honey moon period with a great sense of excitement and no signs of any tension inside Government and I tell myself ‘well I hope it’s like this in a couple of years time’.”