Article for Worcester News
It’s good to be writing for the Worcester News again. The start of the new Parliament has been fascinating for all of us and especially those of us in the “coalition”. I was appointed Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology – MIN(DEST) as the MoD likes to call me. It is a huge honour and a challenging role.

Every one of us is concerned for the safety and well being of the forces fighting on our behalf, and it is my most urgent task is to ensure that all of our troops have the best equipment and support available to them at all times.

In my new role as a Defence Minister I was delighted to attend Armed Forces Day at the weekend. We have Remembrance Sunday every November where we pay our respects to the troops who have fallen for us in the past and for the troops who are fighting for us today. Now we also have Armed Forces Day as the second day in our calendar where we can raise awareness of, and pay tribute to them - and highlight the outstanding contribution that they make to British society.

Throughout the weekend I was thinking particularly of the men and women from the Mercian Regiment, who are on active service in Helmand, and who suffered three more tragic fatalities last week.

Our Armed Forces are in Afghanistan out of necessity, not choice. They are there to protect our national security. The streets of Worcestershire are safer because of their campaign on our behalf against terrorism. Our people in Afghanistan understand this; it is important to them that the nation does too.

The new coalition Government faces tough financial challenges. The emergency budget last week has shown that difficult decisions have had to be made and we will all feel a tightening of the purse strings. There will be cuts but there will also be measures to get the economy back on track and lay the foundations for future prosperity.

We will have to set priorities for public spending because of the difficult situation. While this does mean lower spending overall - and that will have its impact on specific communities – it doesn’t mean everything stops. As a local MP I will continue to press for spending on local priorities, as I always have done, to ensure that my Worcestershire constituents receive fair treatment. But I will need your help, telling me what you think those priorities are.


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