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.