Newbury’s Member of Parliament is putting himself forward to be elected as Chair of one of the most influential Select Committees in the House of Commons. Select Committees have become much more powerful in recent years and the position of Chair is highly sought after. Richard will face an election, which includes at least two other high calibre candidates, Dr Julian Lewis and Colonel Bob Stewart DSO.
Richard has set out his stall in a letter to MPs of all Parties, in which he outlined the need for structured and effective Armed Forces to combat the ever-changing threats facing our country.
Richard said: “I have set out clearly why I want this post. I believe Britain faces a more dangerous world than at any time since the Cold War. I want to make sure we can defend this country and its interests around the world and we can only do that if we have a clear understanding of what threats we face. We need to show how, with our allies, we can deter and, if necessary, defeat our enemies and make the world more stable and prosperous as a result.”
Richard in Iraq
Richard in Mali
Richard’s interest in defence stems from his service with the Royal Green Jackets in the 1980s. He serve in Northern Ireland for two years and studied counter-insurgent warfare in the Far East. He was a Founder-Trustee of the military charity Help for Heroes, which has raised over £230 million since 2007. He has campaigned for veterans and the welfare of servicemen and their families. Richard also sits on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly.
NOTES FOR EDITORS:
The text of Richard’s letter to MPs is as follows:
Select Committees have become an increasingly important in recent years. They succeed in holding the Government to account when they operate as a team with an independent minded and determined Chair. The best Chairs are those who do not see the role as an opportunity to “grandstand” but in public utterances seek to reflect the collective view of the Committee whenever possible. Committees need a Chair who is not looking for ministerial office but who cares deeply about its areas of responsibility. I hope to convince you that I have these qualities as a Chair of the Defence Select Committee.
This is an important time for the security of this country and the protection of our interests around the world. We need Armed Forces that are structured and equipped for the fast changing threats and challenges we face. The Government’s promised Strategic Defence and Security Review needs to be a thorough and comprehensive study of these threats. It must not duck the tough resource issues that flow from such an analysis. As we examine our ability to influence world affairs post Iraq and Afghanistan, we need to accept that if Britain wants to play a part in shaping a better world it will need strong armed forces. Our Select Committee will be more important than ever in holding the Government to account for the defence of this country.
A word about my experience in Defence matters. I served in the Royal Green Jackets in the 1980s. My service included two years in Northern Ireland and some time studying counter insurgency warfare in the Far East. More recently I have taken a great interest in veterans’ affairs. I was a founding Trustee of Help for Heroes, a charity that has raised over £230 million (and spent or allocated over £200 million) for those injured in recent conflicts. Kings College London estimate that there could be around 75,000 veterans who have or could experience health problems as a result of conflict in the post 9/11 period. Help for Heroes “Hidden Wounds” project needs to be supported by the MOD and across Government. Veterans and the welfare of our wounded are a priority for me.
I served on the Defence Select Committee during the last Parliament and I hope my colleagues on that Committee will attest to my ability to work across party lines to produce robust reports and to ask the questions that need asking. With a number of colleagues I sit on the NATO Parliamentary Assembly and am an active member of its Economics and Security Committee.
I am particularly interested in looking at how we can be better served through a smarter model of intervention in troubled regions. This emerging thinking shows how early intervention using many different agencies, particularly soft power, could be so much more effective than the high cost military interventions we have seen in recent decades. This could be a better, and less costly, way to help stabilise vulnerable regions, with the intention, wherever possible, of avoiding any conflict at all.
The replacement of the nuclear deterrent will be decided in this Parliament. I represent an area which is closely associated with the deterrent. The Atomic Research Establishment at Aldermaston is my constituency’s largest employer. I believe the Committee must openly examine the critical issues relating to the replacement submarine fleet so that the country is confident the right decision is reached.
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