In House of Commons Defence Questions earlier today Dr Neil Hudson, MP for Penrith and The Border praised the role of armed forces personnel throughout emergencies but urged the Government to put in place measures to speed up their deployment.
Dr Hudson asked:
“From Foot and Mouth to floods to the pandemic our armed forces have always stepped up in civilian emergencies but the lesson has always been that this has to be as early as possible. From recent experiences with Storm Arwen would my Honourable Friend agree with me that measures need to be put in place across all levels of Government so the armed forces can be deployed in civilian emergencies locally, strategically and quickly?
James Heappey MP, Minister for the Armed Forces responded:
“My Honourable Friend is absolutely right Mr Speaker and, indeed, we do have those mechanisms already with liaison officers in every local resilience fora. The armed forces have done an amazing job, whether it be responding to flooding or indeed last month alone delivering 521,700 jabs as part of the booster programme.”
Speaking afterwards, Dr Hudson added:
“Our amazing armed forces have stepped up time and again to help us in major national crises and having worked with them during the Foot and Mouth Outbreak, I know first-hand that there is no one better in times of crisis like this. Throughout the pandemic our armed forces have been at the forefront of supporting our vital public services. Their hard work has bolstered the vaccine effort and managed to get more jabs into arms.
That said, I am clear that we cannot have another Storm Arwen situation where frankly the Government were too slow to deploy the armed forces. The help is there and ready but the system getting it to where it is most needed needs improvement.”