I have always taken a keen interest in defence. The principal role of government should be the defence of the nation. This is the "main effort" of the Ministry of Defence.

Since being elected to the House of Commons I have had the honour to serve on the Armed Forces Bill Committee. This was one of my more interesting appointments. During the Bill Committee we interviewed many witnesses, from top-brass in the military to directors of military charities, and from our enquiries we helped to enshrine the military covenant in law.

The nearest military establishment to Tamworth is the Defence Medical Centre, previously home to our local infantry battalion.  In 2007 I watched from the crown on the formation of the regiment in Tamworth. Since being elected, I have enjoyed playing my part in welcoming them to Tamworth in their Home Coming Parade. While this battalion was serving a tour of duty in Afghanistan I helped raise the profile of the "I support 3 Mercian" charity by taking mugs to Parliament and selling them on behalf of two local residents who spearheaded this very effective campaign.

Defence is vitally important. Not only must we give utmost care and support to our serving personnel and veterans but we must also help support the small businesses – four of which are in my constituency – that are part of the engine of innovation of our economy. I have raised issues with both the Veterans Minister on behalf of a veteran in my constituency and the issue of defence procurement to the Chief of Defence Materials on behalf of those SMEs in my constituency.

I am a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group for defence and I enjoy their events where we usually hear distinguished speakers talk about their experience with the military, and I recently welcomed members of the West Midland Reserve Forces and Cadets into Parliament.

Defence is an area I hope to get more involved in during 2012.

The Conservative Party's stance on defence is found on their website and the Ministry of Defence's home page has further information.

26 JUN 2014

Christopher Pincher says support our soldiers

Christopher Pincher, Member of Parliament for Tamworth and surrounding villages, has called on local people to support our soldiers by lining the streets of Tamworth for the 3 Battalion, Mercian Regiment's homecoming parade. Commenting Mr Pincher said: "I hope everyone who can make it will head...

31 MAY 2013

Pincher Launches Troop's Shoe Box Campaign

Christopher Pincher, Member of Parliament for Tamworth, has launched a local campaign to pack welfare boxes for our local battalion 3 Mercian, while in Afghanistan in Christmas 2013 and early 2014. Christopher is working with the Staffordshire Regiment Museum, Tamworth Herald, local residents,...

25 APR 2013

Christopher Pincher MP: Help Veterans Commemorate 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Christopher Pincher, Member of Parliament for Tamworth, has called on the Ministry of Defence to help Normandy Veterans commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-day in 1944 by providing support for their families and carers to make what may well be their final trip to Normandy to pay their respects...

The Investigatory Powers Bill, which will be subject to scrutiny by a Joint Committee of both Houses of Parliament, will be a landmark piece of legislation which will ensure that law enforcement and security agencies have the powers they need to keep us safe, while at the same time providing unprecedented detail about what those powers are, how they are exercised and how they are overseen. No other country in the world has been this open about the use of investigatory powers.

The task of law enforcement and the security and intelligence agencies has become vastly more demanding in this digital age. It is right, therefore, that those who are charged with protecting us should have the powers they need to do so. But it is the role of Government and Parliament to ensure that there are limits to those powers.

The draft Bill includes provisions on each of the key capabilities available to the intelligence agencies and others: communications data; interception; and equipment interference. It provides for the retention of internet connection records (ICR) - although access to the data will be tightly controlled. It is important to make clear that an ICR is a record of the communications services a person or device has connected to. It is the internet equivalent of a phone bill – it is not a person's full internet browsing history.

Law enforcement access to the information would be on a case-by-case basis, where it is necessary and proportionate, limited to three rigidly defined purposes. These are to identify what device had sent an online communication, establish what online communications services a known individual had accessed or identify whether a known individual had accessed illegal services online.

There have been three independent reviews on investigatory powers – by David Anderson, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, and the Royal United Services Institute – and all agreed that the agencies should have the power to acquire and use data in bulk. This draft Bill sets out, in clear detail, existing powers for the security and intelligence agencies to do this, whilst subjecting them to stricter safeguards.

With regard to the question of who, in future, should authorise interception warrants, the Home Secretary has announced that there will be a 'double-lock' authorisation process. This will mean that warrants for the most intrusive powers available to the agencies, such as the interception of communications, will be subject to a 'double-lock', requiring approval by a judge as well as by the Secretary of State. This I hope, is reassuring to you.

I would like to emphasise that this Bill is not, fundamentally, about new powers but about improving public and Parliamentary awareness and confidence in the scope of existing powers and how they are authorised and overseen. Updating the legal framework governing investigatory powers will ensure it is modern, fit for purpose and respects both privacy and security.

Finally, this Bill has cross party support from Labour and the Liberal Democrats. In the wake of the recent attacks in Paris we must protect ourselves against potential attackers – sometimes politicians have to act to defend our county. It appears that campaigning organisations, such as 38 Degrees seem happy to risk public safety whilst spreading false information about public liberty.

As you will know the House of Commons approved military action in early December with a majority of 174, and the RAF has begun airstrikes against this murderous and barbarous death-cult. In that vote the majority of Lib Dem MPs and 67 Labour MPs including former ministers Hilary Benn, Margaret Beckett, Alan Johnson and Yvette Cooper supported the Government. Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson also voted for action – against the wishes of his Party Leader.

I believe that Parliament has taken the right decision to take action to degrade and destroy the islamo-fascists of Daesh. This is part of a comprehensive response to this threat which includes not just military action, but a parallel political process through the International Syria Support Group. It is also about continuing our humanitarian effort in Syria and our counter-extremism strategy at home.

Furthermore, there is no argument against our involvement in attacking ISIL/Daesh in Syria that cannot be made against our action in Iraq, where we have helped to prevent ISIL's expansion and to reclaim 30% of the territory it occupied. Fifteen months ago, these murderers, who behead, crucify, fling people from high buildings, rape, torture and sell women for sex and kill those they deem too old for sale, were at the gates of Baghdad. Because of the aerial action that has been taken against them they have been driven back and the Iraqi army now has them on the back foot. We can achieve the same success in Syria.

I voted in favour of military action because I believe that we have a moral obligation to play our part in a global effort to deal with existential threat that Daesh presents to our way of life. They hate us not because of what we do but because of who we are. They will not compromise nor negotiate. Put simply I do not believe that they will stop until they are stopped. The United Nations has resolved, with no objections that the international community believes that Daesh must be dealt with. It is wrong for the United Kingdom to outsource its security to other nations and expect their aircrews to carry the burdens and risks of striking Daesh in Syria to stop terrorism here in Britain. Our defence is their defence and, similarly, their defence is ours. It is not enough for us to look at Syria and wish for peace or simply stand back and hope for it. We must play our part in that peace.

Whilst I fully respect the view of those who are personally and conscientiously opposed to the use of force, or who have expressed their concern that military intervention in Syria will make the United Kingdom less safe, I would say that the level of threat to citizens in the UK could hardly be higher than it currently is. The threat level is already severe and over the past year alone our police and security services have already foiled seven terrorist plots at home in our own country. As the Prime Minister emphasised in the House of Commons on Wednesday evening, these people attack us because of who we are, and not because of what we do. And they are plotting to attack us now – either directly from or inspired by their headquarters in Raqqa in Syria.

We must take action to ensure the safety and security of the British people. The safe space enjoyed by Daesh in Syria gives them a capacity to plan, finance and organise terrorist atrocities that must be degraded.

With regard to safety and protection of the Syrian people the future of the millions of refugees in the area, the stability of surrounding countries that accommodate those refugees relies on the disruption of Daesh's ambitions. It is Daesh who murder and threaten the lives of the Syrian people and we should take action to ensure that displaced Syrians can return home and live a life free of fear. We have already done more than any other nation to invest in camps, supplies and support for refugees.


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Email me: christopher.pincher.mp@parliament.uk



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