Martin Docherty MP has raised concerns with the UK Defence Secretary after this year’s Armed Forces Day event in West Dunbartonshire did not go ahead due to there being no capacity in the armed forces to deliver it.
During parliamentary Defence Questions, the SNP MP expressed disappointment that the annual event paying tribute to service personnel and veterans in West Dunbartonshire was not able to be held.
Mr Docherty’s parliamentary intervention follows a letter sent by the MP to the UK Defence Secretary seeking assurances that the situation would not be repeated again next year.
The move follows comments by the Depute Lord Lieutenant of Dunbartonshire, Colonel Bobby Steele, revealing that local armed forces did not have the resources required to support this year’s Armed Forces Day in West Dunbartonshire.
Commenting, Martin Docherty MP said:
“As the MP for West Dunbartonshire it is a great honour to have attended events in my constituency to pay tribute to those who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces by marking Armed Forces Day.
“I have been contacted by a number of constituents, local organisations and councillors who have expressed alarm that no events took place this year due to insufficient capacity in the armed forces.
“The UK government’s cuts to the defence budget are putting considerable pressure on the resources of our armed forces, resulting in a lack of the necessary personnel needed to carry out their duties.
“It is important that the communities of West Dunbartonshire are given the opportunity to pay tribute to the bravery of our service personnel and veterans. As the brother of a local reservist veteran who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, I hope that this situation will not arise again in West Dunbartonshire.
“I have raised concerns with the UK Defence Secretary and asked for assurances that the armed forces will be able to support Armed Forces Day events in West Dunbartonshire next year and in the future.”
Letter sent to UK Secretary of State for Defence
The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP
Secretary of State for Defence
Ministry of Defence
Dear Secretary of State,
Armed Forces Day events
As the MP for West Dunbartonshire it is with great honour that since being first elected I have attended events in my constituency to pay tribute to those who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces by marking Armed Forces Day.
I have been contacted by a number of constituents, local organisations and local councillors who have expressed alarm that no such events took place this year.
In response to these concerns, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant, Colonel Bobby Steele, who is the armed forces liaison officer in charge of organising the events, announced that the armed forces did not have the capacity to do justice to Armed Forces Day and therefore advised Provost William Hendrie that they would not be going ahead with events this year.
I share the concerns of Provost Hendrie, veterans, local residents, groups and councillors that the armed forces were unable to support events in West Dunbartonshire and that this may be the case across a number of local authorities in Scotland.
It is clear that our conventional forces are being stretched and are unable to carry out their regular duties due to the Defence budget being cut whilst your Government is unwavering its intention to renew the cash draining and immoral trident system.
Therefore, what assurances can you provide me that the armed forces will be able to support Armed Forces Day events in West Dunbartonshire and across Scotland in 2018 and that the most recent situation is never repeated and the general public can pay tribute to those who defend the United Kingdom from threat.
I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Martin Docherty MP