The debate on the Fusiliers motion was excellent yesterday. John Baron in whose name the motion stood on the order paper opened the debate and set out the main reasons why the Second Battalion should be retained. There were thoughtful and sensible contributions from both sides of the House and the Minister clearly did not enjoy having to try and defend the Government’s position. The public gallery was full of former Fusiliers and the Parade and they all applauded when John had finished speaking although the security glass is so thick we can hardly hear it in the Chamber. I was delighted I was called to speak and at the end of the debate John asked if I would act as one of the tellers for the Ayes. Tellers are the people who count the number of MP’s who vote on each side. Both the Government and Opposition front benches had decided not to take part in the vote and so less than 10% of MP’s actually voted but for the record the Motion was carried by 57 votes to 3.
There is a debate today in the House of Commons on the following motion:
That this House opposes the disbandment of the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF); notes that 2RRF is the only infantry battalion being cut that was not initially due for disbandment on military grounds; further notes that 2RRF was instead caught by the Government’s additional criteria of only one battalion loss per regiment and no deletion of cap-badges, which has resulted in more poorly-recruited Scottish battalions being saved; further notes the social and economic costs of disbandment; and urges the Government to reverse its decision.
I have put in a request to speak in the debate and hopefully I will be called. Hundreds of retired Fusiliers will be parading through London and many will be attending the debate.
Some good news today in the Campaign to save the Second Battalion of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
Last week a group of us who represent Constituencies where the Fusiliers have traditionally recruited from met in Parliament to discuss how we could best try and persuade the Government to reconsider this decision and hopefully reverse it. One tactic was that we would seek a debate on the issue on the floor of the House of Commons. The following day in Business of the House questions four of us were able to ask the Leader of the House for a debate. This is mainly a tactic to put the issue on the record as the Leader of the House never accedes there and then to the dozens of requests which are made every week.
Following this it was decided an approach would be made to the Backbench Business Committee to see if they would be prepared to grant a debate in the time they have allocated to them. The Committee met today and the good news is that they have agreed to a debate being held on Thursday 18th October which is the first Thursday back after the Conference recess.
They paraded through the town and had a civic reception in the Elizabethan Suite where the Mayor of Bury Councillor Sheila Magnall paid tribute to the work done by the Battalion during their tour of duty in Helmand Province in Afghanistan. Particular tributes where paid to those of the Regiment who had fallen during the tour of duty.
I was delighted that so many Bury residents had taken the time and trouble to line the streets of our town centre to honour these brave men who put their lives at risk so that we may have a more peaceful world.