I am proud to represent the Service families living locally, which is why I successfully campaigned for the pupil premium for Service children and secured £3 million of local funding for service leavers to access support and training for civilian jobs.
Over 4000 soldiers and their families will relocate to the Salisbury Plain area over the next few years under the Army rebasing programme. The MOD is working very closely with Wiltshire Council, local communities and all other public services to ensure that the homes and infrastructure that are needed are in place. I have also helped find extra funding for new schools and health services to prepare for the planned increase in local troop numbers, and ensure that Ministers are fully briefed on local issues.
£1.2bn of MOD funding will flow into our local economy over the next few years which will be a huge boost for businesses and will create many local jobs.
I share the concerns of many ex-service people that the decision by the Northern Irish authorities to investigate each of the 302 killings by British soldiers serving in Northern Ireland under Operation Banner is disproportionate and an unfair investigation. Of course the conduct of our Armed Forces should be subject to proper scrutiny and the rule of law, but this new process looks flawed and partisan and unless handled properly, runs the risk of looking like support for the prosecution of soldiers for just doing their job – a process which not only breaks every aspect of the Military Covenant but will have a dreadful effect on Army morale and recruiting both locally and nationally. I raised my concerns in the House of Commons with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire MP and I also spoke in a debate in Westminster Hall.
I am continuing to follow developments and I am working closely with a group of MPs who share similar concerns.