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Parliament to probe military kit issues

Troops, taxpayers should definitely write in

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Hints that this might be the case were forthcoming soon enough, and in 2007 Lord Drayson left the MoD in a towering rage after officials there began to resist his continual raiding of the forces' budget on behalf of his industry chums. The excuse given was that Drayson wanted to spend more time racing his biofuel-powered car, with the goal of achieving victory at Le Mans. In fact, he was angered by the Army's decisions on the FRES future armoured vehicle fleet - which conflicted with his DIS vision. (Drayson is now back in government, in fact, as science minister - without winning Le Mans.)

Ever since, the British arms industry has been nagging the MoD to bring out the long-awaited revised DIS - aka "DIS2" - it being acknowledged that the original was fantasy. The arms biz wants to know just how much of the promised pork handouts will really be forthcoming.

And James Arbuthnot, chairman of the parliamentary defence committee, is still their good friend. His new inquiry seems to be setting itself up as the UK arms biz's opportunity to put the MoD on the spot.

The Committee plans to examine ... progress made to date in implementing the DIS and the delay in publishing the updated version of the DIS ... The Committee would welcome written evidence to the inquiry. In particular, it would welcome industry's views.

But there's no reason to let the MPs be glove-puppeted by the British arms sector like this. They say they're willing to listen to ordinary citizens, taxpayers - maybe even to service people. Uniformed personnel aren't allowed to talk to the press, but there should be far fewer restrictions on them giving their views to the parliamentary oversight committee.

If there's anyone out there who'd like to see some of the annual £16bn Defence Equipment & Support budget spent on things our boys and girls in combat actually need, rather than on industrial subsidies - why not let Arbuthnot & Co know?

Here's how:

Submissions should be in Word or rich text format and sent by email to defcom@parliament.uk. The body of the email must include a contact name, telephone number and postal address. The email should also make clear who the submission is from.

Submissions should be as brief as possible, and paragraphs should be numbered for ease of reference. Longer documents should include an executive summary.

If you do not wish your submission to be published, you must clearly say so.

<shameless plug>If you want a bit more background on the armed forces' long and troubled relationship with the British weapons biz - and James Arbuthnot's track record - before sounding off, I recommend this book - mainly because I wrote it.</shameless plug> ®

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