Tory MP’s anger at “absurd” MoD top brass

October 15, 2009 at 7:19 pm 1 comment

A former defence minister has questioned whether the armed forces have too many senior officers.

Nicholas Soames, MP for Sussex Mid, spoke out during a debate on defence policy.

“It is now 25 years since the Heseltine review of the head office of the MoD,” he told the House.

“Our armed forces were then, at the time, twice the size.

“But since then we have somehow increased the number of military officers and, especially, civil servants at three and four-star levels.”

He described the MoD as “a crazy, absurd, overblown bureaucracy”.

Soames, a defence minister under John Major, close friend of Prince Charles and grandson of Winston Churchill, continued:

“The top structure is increasingly bloated with senior officials who themselves create bureaucracy and slow down decision making in a wholly unacceptable and a very dangerous manner at a time when we require very nimble, very sharp, very prompt decision-making.

“Can one really imagine Lord Beaverbrook and Churchill allowing a procurement structure of the type that we have now?”

“How can we therefore continue to justify each of the three services having both a chief of staff and a commander in chief?

“Do we really need a First Sea Lord and a separate Commander in Chief Navy Command with all their supporting staff – and their supporting staffs are very big?”

The Conservatives have pledged to cut the running costs of the MoD by 25% if elected.

Earlier the defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, was personally reprimanded by the Speaker over the publication of a major report condemning the MoD procurement practices less than an hour before a defence debate in the Commons.

Speaker Bercow: I say to members of the Treasury Bench that, frankly, it can be regarded as a rank discourtesy to the House that it has been published only an hour or so before the next debate. As the Secretary of State for Defence is present, I invite him to respond to the point of order.

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): I know what is said, but the report was not completed some time ago. That is why it was not published before the recess.

photo: MoD website.
The First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB ADC(left of picture) chats to Air Chief Marshal Sir Glen Torpy GCB CBE DSO ADC with the Head of the Army General Sir Richard Dannatt CBE MC ADC GEN looking on in the background.


Entry filed under: Commons, Procedure. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. dalyhistory  |  October 16, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I do remember reading a while back that the Royal Navy is close to having more Admirals than major surface warships, which is an absurd state of affairs.


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