It is now many months since the Government announced that as part of the plan to bring the Ministry of defence budget into balance a number of battalions were being withdrawn and one of these was the Second Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. There has been an ongoing campaign to try and persuade the Government to reverse this decision on various grounds not least of which is the fact that there are Scottish battalions which find it more difficult to recruit.
Last week the Government announced the latest list of redundancies totalling 4,480, four our of five of which were voluntary. The Government have always said that in so far as is possible the Ministry of Defence would redeploy soldiers rather than make them redundant when a battalion was withdrawn.
Consequently I asked the Ministry of Defence how many members of the Second Battalion of Fusiliers have been issued with redundancy notices.
I have today been notified that since 2010 35 personnel have been selected for redundancy and of these 31 had applied for redundancy. So there have been just 4 Fusiliers who would have preferred to stay in the Army who have been forced to leave.
I do not know whether any of these are from Bury but in any event I sincerely hope they will soon find alternative employment. They will be encouraged by the fact that 1.3 million new jobs have been created in the private sector since 2010 and nine out of ten who leave the armed forces find a new job within six months.
It is of course worth remembering why it is the Government have been forced to take these difficult decisions with our armed forces. The fact is that there was a £38billion black hole. The books simply did not balance and the situation was not sustainable. Our armed forces have now been put on an even keel and as the Prime Minister has announced there will be no further reductions in front line troops with future savings being found from efficiency savings.