STALYBRIDGE and Hyde MP Jonathan Reynolds has challenged the Government to publish the demographic data that determined which battalions would be axed from the Army.
Last week Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond outlined Government plans to cut 20,000 troops from the Army.
The 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – which recruits from across Greater Manchester – is one of 17 units that are due to be axed by 2020.
The Secretary of State said the decision had been made after the demographics of those recruitment areas had been looked at.
So now Mr Reynolds – who is Secretary of the All Party Armed Forces Group – has laid down a Parliamentary Question asking Mr Hammond to “publish the demographic analysis used to determine the selection of infantry battalions to be withdrawn from the Order of Battle as part of the 'Army 2020' review.
The question has been listed for answer on Thursday 12 July, 2012.
Mr Reynolds said: “Members of the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers have served in some of the most difficult conflicts around the world, in some circumstances paying the ultimate sacrifice.
“With traditions and history rooted in Lancashire, it is no surprise that there has been a groundswell of anger following the announcement that it was to be abolished by 2020.
“The Government has indicated that the selection of particular battalions reflects changing demographics.
“Yet with a recruitment record that is one of the best in the Army it is hard to see how this decision could make sense for this battalion.
“I have now challenged the Government to publish the demographic analysis that has been used to determine which battalions are to be withdrawn.
“And I will continue to push the Government to publish the information that our serving members of our Armed Forces deserve to see.
“If the Government is to make this decision, they have a responsibility to the men and women serving in these battalions to ensure that the decision is as transparent as possible.”
Last week – when Mr Hammond announced the changes in the House of Commons - Mr Reynolds asked him what he had meant when he said that the demographics of those recruitment areas had been looked at.
The Minister pointed to a general decline in the number of men – aged between 18 and 24 – across the UK and said there were some specific issues in some specific regional geographies.
Mr Reynolds – who is a member of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme - is calling on the Minister to release the information.
Published 12 July, 2012