By Michael Take
1 April 2011
The Ministry of Defence is to be broken up and control of the armed forces handed to local authorities under the next phase of the government’s localism drive.
Ministers have acted today after a series of highly critical reports from the National Audit Office on inefficiency and waste in MoD procurement and management.
Under their plans, each council would have its own armed forces answerable to a directly elected military commissioner.
A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said councils would be able to make efficiency savings by declaring war on each other.
Those that proved victorious would be allowed to enslave their defeated enemies’ back-office staff, who would then work without pay.
Captured chief executives could be ransomed, but only for sums less than the prime minister’s salary.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said a bonus equivalent to six years’ worth of council tax per hectare would be paid to each council that managed to conquer another’s territory.
Localised armed forces would comprise mainly soldiers, but coastal councils would be able to apply for grants to set up navies in a revival of the Sea Change programme.
Upper-tier councils would be allowed their own air forces, while county councils would form ‘air power consortia’ in two tier areas.
Nuclear weapons would be controlled by a Whitehall residuary body and be rented out to councils that needed to clear brownfield areas for regeneration.
Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles said: ‘This is real localism, but I don’t want it to stop at town halls.
‘Every council must involve residents in creating neighbourhood military plans.’