Armed Forces: LGBT Veterans

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Baroness Goldie
Monday 17th October 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I pay tribute to the noble Lord, Lord Cashman, and to my noble friend Lord Lexden for their unstinting commitment to these issues. To start with the first part of the noble Lord’s question, I do not think there is much I can add to what I have already said to my noble friend. It is within the scope of the inquiry by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, to look at all the impacts on personnel who were dismissed. They may include social, family and financial impacts. That is why it is very important that we let the noble and learned Lord conduct his inquiry and then observe his recommendations.

On Part 12 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, the scheme is led by the Home Office and the MoD. We are committed to bringing those provisions into force as soon as possible. Officials are already working on the necessary technical criteria—and they are fairly complex—to ensure that the legislation ultimately works as smoothly as possible. We expect to launch the extended scheme in the first quarter of 2023.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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Is the Minister able to say when this review might be published?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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The review period for the noble and learned Lord, Lord Etherton, is from June this year to May next year.

Ukraine: Lethal Weapons

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Baroness Goldie
Tuesday 5th April 2022

(2 years, 2 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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My noble friend articulates a powerful sentiment; that is why there is such resolve on the part of the United Kingdom as a bilateral friend of Ukraine and in the global response—whether that is the response to calls for specific equipment and kit or the application of sanctions and financial restrictions. It indicates just how isolated Putin has become and how serious the consequences are for this ill-judged and disastrous expedition.

Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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The re-election of Viktor Orbán in Hungary highlights again the very unhelpful and negative attitude shown by that country with respect to support for Ukraine. Does Her Majesty’s Government have any leverage or influence to persuade the Hungarian Government that in the long run, far from being a friend, Putin will be a threat to Hungary as well?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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That strays very much outwith my immediate area of responsibility and into that of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. I am sure that my noble friend Lord Ahmad would be happy to respond in more detail to the noble and right reverend Lord.

Army Restructuring: Future Soldier

Debate between Lord Harries of Pentregarth and Baroness Goldie
Thursday 25th November 2021

(2 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Harries of Pentregarth Portrait Lord Harries of Pentregarth (CB)
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I thank the Minister very much for her Statement. Like other noble Lords, I pay tribute to our Armed Forces, particularly those who have been serving in recent years in Afghanistan under such testing and difficult circumstances.

Obviously, the main thrust of the Statement—rapid deployment and cutting-edge technology, particularly cyberwarfare—is absolutely right. However, as one of the diminishing number of people who served in the mid-1950s, when, if my memory serves me correctly, we had 1 million soldiers in the British Army of the Rhine alone, it comes as quite a shock that we are now talking about an Army of only 100,000 or so. What particularly worries me is that, in recent years, recruitment, even to this number, has not been satisfactory; there has always been a shortfall. What new strategies are there to ensure that this number of 100,000 is at least maintained? Of course, in this new Army, reservists, as the Minister rightly said, will play a significant role, with something like 27,000 of them. Is the Minister satisfied that the number of people with the right qualifications are coming forward for the reserve element in the Army?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I thank the noble and right reverend Lord very much indeed. He raises two important points. On recruitment, he is correct that challenges with recruitment were identified, and the approach to recruitment changed—and, actually, the position has turned around and is very encouraging. Part of what we are doing is to try to ensure that the Army represents an attractive career with an attractive future. Therefore, we are optimistic that recruitment will not be an issue and there will continue to be a good rate of applications to join the Army. We have no reason to think that that will not materialise.

On reservists and skills, one consequence of this reconfiguration, as I said earlier to the noble Lord, Lord Coaker, is to make this a much more attractive prospect for reservists, for two reasons. It gives them a sense that they are valued, acknowledged and regarded as part of the scene, as it were; whereas I think before that they may have felt that they were on the periphery, additional when needed but not at the centre of activity. This turns that around and makes sure that they are part of a whole-force approach.

The other interesting thing is, with the changes that have been introduced and some of the innovations that have been implemented in very recent times, we are now offering greater flexibility to reservists so they can choose, along with their employers, what is a suitable period of commitment for them. It used to be much more rigid: it was a short period away and then back to the full-time job. We are trying to make sure that that is much more flexible. We think that that will also appeal to a lot of people, depending on where they are in their career in the outside world, and that should facilitate heightened interest in the reserves, and, I hope, encourage more people to sign up to be reservists, in the knowledge that we are tailoring a system that is designed to suit them and their employers, as well as benefiting our whole-force approach.