Hilary Benn, shadow leader of the Commons, has written to the government to complain that the spending review debate on October 28 will only be a single day. His point is that this is only a fraction of the 4-day debate which follows each annual spring Budget. Tomorrow (Wednesday) there will be an immediate debate but it will only be an hour or so.
Here is the document:
Dear Sir George (Young)
I am writing to express my deep concern at the lack of time it seems that the House will have to debate the Comprehensive Spending Review, and to ask you to look at this again. Read more
It is impossible to judge the defence review without seeing the full budget breakdown, available only to government officials. But even with the information we now have, it is pretty clear that some assumptions are incoherent. Some plans just don’t add up. The most obvious issues are with the shape of the army after 2015.
There may be big troop cuts hidden in this review that Cameron just didn’t want to mention.
1) The mystery of Britain’s 29,000 surplus troops in 2020
At the moment Britain’s 110,000 strong land forces can sustain a deployment of around 10,000. By 2020 this enduring deployment will fall to brigade level, which amounts to around 6,500 men.
This is basically an admission that we will be unable to sustain as big a role in the next Afghanistan or Iraq.
But more curious is the fact that we’re not cutting the land forces by as much as we’re cutting the deployments we expect them to sustain.
The “force generation” ratio — the proportion of troops to boots on the ground — will actually deteriorate over the next decade according to the defence review, even though Liam Fox has ordered a separate review on how to improve it. Read more
Friends of the Earth have written to Greg Barker, climate change minister, threatening a legal challenge if the tariffs paid to homes, businesses and communities for generating small-scale renewable electricity are cut tomorrow.
The environmental charity warned that “feed-in tariff” levels have been set out by the government, with a clear statement that they will not be reviewed – let alone reduced – until 2013. Any change to tariff levels before this review could lead to a legal challenge from councils, community groups or small-scale energy producers who have already invested in renewable infrastructure, it says.
That seems likely to happen given a report in this morning’s Guardian that the “FIT” will be cut by 10 per cent. Read more