By politics.co.uk staff
Liam Fox has been forced on to the defensive after he was told service personnel redundancy announcements were “disgraceful”.
The defence secretary was summoned to the Commons after the Ministry of Defence (MoD) released details of 5,000 RAF job cuts yesterday.
Labour’s shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy told MPs he was deeply concerned that service personnel returning from Afghanistan would find themselves welcomed as heroes by the public – but sacked by the government.
Dr Fox insisted that compulsory redundancies would not affect those within six months of deploying or those on operational tour leave.
He was accused by Liberal Democrat backbencher Bob Russell of having handled the situation insensitively, however. The job cuts announcement came as David Cameron called on military chiefs to begin preparing plans for a no-fly zone over Libya.
“There is never a good time to announce redundancies. But if we are to keep faith with our personnel, we must follow the timetables we have set out for them,” Dr Fox said.
“It would be very easy to delay announcements at the inconvenience of our armed forces personnel simply for the convenience of politicians – that would be entirely the wrong way to proceed.”
The 5,000 RAF job cuts will be followed by 5,000 job losses in the Navy and 7,000 in the Army.
“It’s clear that some of our brave Forces taking on the Taliban will be welcomed home as heroes by the public but sacked by their government,” Mr Murphy said. “It’s a very sad day.”
Personnel being made redundant will, as with all other Service leavers, receive help from the MoD to assist them in their transition back into civilian life, the MoD said in a statement.
“This includes a range of advice covering housing and finance as well as helping them to understand the civilian jobs market and how transferable their military skills are.”