Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson endured a series of tough questions from members of Parliament’s cross-party Defence Select Committee.
Recruitment in particular was an area of concern for MPs; the Army has confirmed it will not meet its recruitment targets this year and Conservative MP Mark Francois told the Defence Secretary:
“The Army is gradually disappearing before your eyes and it’s doing so, Sir, on your watch. And you, forgive me, have got to do something about it.”
Williamson replied by hinting that the MOD’s contract with Capita could be axed:
“So this is why we have taken the action that we have and we will not be nervous in taking further action... If that includes changing the contractor, if that is required, yes we will."
He continued that Capita is working on a “radical” new scheme trying to get the time between interest and sign up down from 326 days to 109 days.
MPs also pressed Williamson on the MOD’s awarding of defence contracts to European companies – citing concerns that it could lead to a long-term skills gap in Britain.
Rosyth Dockyard was brought up specifically – with MPs asking what will happen to it between now and when the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers come in for a refit in years down the line.
Williamson told the committee, “We recognise the importance of Rosyth but also we recognise the importance there is in having competition in most of these bids.”