LABOUR CONFERENCE: Shadow defence minister praise for RAF crews and pledge to put defence review into law

Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker visits the Royal British Legion in Norwich

Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker visits the Royal British Legion in Norwich - Credit: Archant Norfolk

A strategic review of Britain's military and security policy will by law have to be held during every Parliament and scrutinised by MPs under a Labour government, shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker has announced.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) will be enshrined in law if Labour wins the next election, with oversight of it then assured in Parliament.

Mr Coaker said the move was necessary as Britain's armed forces need direction after four years of a coalition Government lacking a strategic vision and mismanaging defence projects.

He also praise crew from RAF Marham during his speech at the Labour Party Conference.

'Our Armed Forces have also shown in recent weeks that the military can have a vital role to play in responding to the humanitarian crises that so often accompanies conflict. The RAF's aid drops over Iraqi towns have provided life-saving humanitarian assistance to those desperately in need. While reconnaissance missions over Iraq have provided invaluable intelligence to our allies as to IS positions on the ground.'

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He also said in the keynote speech: 'The common theme across our evolving role in Afghanistan, in tackling the threat from IS at home and abroad and in meeting the changed security environment in Europe, is, of course, the need for clear strategic direction about the UK's role in the world, how we work multilaterally within Nato, the EU and the UN, and how our armed forces are equipped to meet that.

'That's what Britain has been missing and that's where Labour will lead.

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'Because under the Tories the lack of any strategic vision sits together with prolonged mismanagement of projects and neglect of our troops that risks and diminishes Britain's ability to effectively respond to known and unknown threats, while also weakening our standing on the international stage.

'A rushed Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010 led to mistakes in planning and implementation as well as a complete absence of focus on national security and future threats.

'A future Labour government won't make the same mistakes as the Tories because I have promised that we will hold an SDSR that will be strategically led and financially responsible. That's getting things in the right order.

'And I want an inclusive, transparent discussion about the future of Britain's defence and security. The current Government are doing it behind closed doors. But you can't do that and maintain public confidence and support.

'That's why today I'm announcing that we will put the Strategic Defence and Security Review on a statutory basis. We will bring it before Parliament for consultation, ensuring that it is robustly scrutinised and we will make it mandatory for the government to undertake one during the lifetime of every Parliament because our armed forces need direction.'

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