Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, has written to Nick Harvey, Minister for the Armed Forces, in advance of the debate on the Defence Review demanding that the Government publish all the advice it received in making the decision to delete the Harrier fleet and to suspend that decision until a full debate has taken place.
Jim Murphy MP said:
“Serious people have raised serious concerns about the Government’s decision to scrap Harriers and all Ministers have succeeded in doing is add to the confusion. It’s now time to publish the MOD advice and full costs of terminating the Harrier fleet and suspend the decision until we have had a proper debate.”
Below is an extract from the letter sent by Mr Murphy to Mr Harvey on 11th November 2010:
I am writing to clarify a statement you made on the Today Programme on 9th November. In the letter to the Times Newspaper on the same day, ex-Navy Commanders stated that “the existing Tornado force will cost, over ten years, seven times as much to keep in service as Harrier”. In your interview you said this was “absolute nonsense”.
You went on to say that the Government will be saving more by deleting Harrier than by deleting Tornado. This is factually incorrect. We know from answers to Parliamentary Questions that the costs of Tornado outweigh those of Harrier.
Do you stand by your statement that more has been saved by deleting the Harrier fleet? Given the importance of this issue, will you publish all of the costings that led to this decision being taken?
The Government says that there was no alternative to the decision that has left us without carrier strike capability for ten years. However, Admiral West and others have argued that this is not the case and that there were alternative options whereby the Harrier fleet could have been retained and a cost saving made.
I hope you will publish the figures and suspend the cancellation of the Harrier fleet until Parliament and the defence community have had a chance to debate this fully.
Jim Murphy MP