So, we are potless, the MoD and forces are foursquare behind the operation in Afghanistan and no stone is being left unturned in the quest for efficiency savings.
We are facing the prospect of deleting capabilities, making service personnel and civil servants redundant and generally shrinking defence so absolutely everything should be about saving money. Before looking at ceremonial, display and horses how about the use of taxis and time spent on trade union activities.
In a recent Parliamentary Answer the Defence Minister, Peter Luff, confirmed the amount reimbursed to service personnel for taxi fares in 2009/10 was £1.1million but in what is an incredible and quite unbelievable admission, expenditure on taxi fares for civilian personnel could not be provided because the information is not recorded centrally.
I am not going to comment on the £1.1million because we don’t know what’s behind it but what sort of organisation of the MoD’s size doesn’t record expenditure against categories. Every corporate organisation in the world has an expense system that provides for the collection of and reporting of different types of expense categories. This allows them to monitor and manage different types of expense, it really isn’t rocket science. It is also interesting to note that the service personnel system, the much maligned JPA, can produce the figures.
How can the MoD possibly hope to control costs if it doesn’t have even a half way modern expense management system?
In the same answer was information about MoD Civil Servants trade union activities.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much his Department has paid to trade unions in each year since 1997; and what estimate he has made of the value of facilities provided by his Department and its predecessors for use by trade unions in each year since 1997. 
Mr Gerald Howarth: MOD does not make payments to any trade unions (TUs). The MOD-recognised TUs are funded through the subscription fees of their members.
MOD views it to be in the joint interest of the Department and its recognised trade unions and staff associations for reasonable administrative facilities to be provided and the Department complies with the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) Code of Practice ‘Time off for trade union duties and activities.’ Representatives for each recognised trade union and staff association are provided with equipped office space in an appropriate location, including facilities to work in accordance with that provided for other staff in the buildings on site, for example, desk, phone, IT, fax, etc.
Regarding the estimate of the annual value of such provision-the information is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
Fair enough that the MoD doesn’t make any payments to Trade Unions, I am sure we would all be surprised if it did, but again in a statement that beggars belief, it cannot provide any estimate of the costs of the office and ICT costs for those facilities it does provide.
Another question asks about the amount of time MoD Civil Servants spend on union activities.
Priti Patel: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many paid manpower hours civil servants in his Department spent on trade union-related duties and activities in each year since 1997. 
Mr Gerald Howarth: The MOD uses a standard figure of 220 days to calculate the time off for trade union duties and activities (facility time). This figure represents the working year after the deduction of annual leave, public, privilege and bank holidays, for full-time employees. The amount of time off, and the purposes for which it is allowed, is determined by what is considerable reasonable and the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) Code of Practice “Time off for Trade Union duties and activities”. The facility time allowances are agreed annually and are reflected as a percentage of the employee’s working year.
The following table sets out the number of full-time equivalent (FTE) civil servants allocated facility time each year since 1997. Based on an average working day of seven hours, a broad estimate has been calculated to address the amount of paid manpower hours spent on facility time. It has not been possible to extract those employees with facility time working part-time.
View the table at the link above but for 2009/10 the figure for full time employees only is 207,900 hours
Yes, that figure is correct.
A whopping 207,900 hours are spent by full time MoD civil servants on PAID UNION DUTY and this excludes the Trading Funds (Met Office, DSG, Hydrographic Office and DSTL, representing over 10% of the total 86 odd thousand MoD CS) Service Personnel Vetting Agency and Defence Police Federation.
The publication works this back to a Full Time Equivalent of 135
So the MoD effectively has 135 people working full time on union activities.
Let’s just make the assumption that the average capitation cost of an MoD civil servant is £30k per year; we have about 4,000 sets of Osprey body armour doing union activities, every year.
Read the next question and answer on the link for an even more troubling breakdown.
I will leave you with a quote
We must make sure that we make every penny spent on Defence count