Live Defence Questions House of Commons


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Live Defence Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to defence secretary Michael Fallon and his ministerial team.


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Welcome to BBC Parliament fly from Westminster. In an hour's time the

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MPs will look at the notification of withdrawal rubble, the article which

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starts the formal process of Britain leaving the EU. Live to the House of

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Commons. Order order. Questions to the Secretary of State of defence,

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Liz McInnis. Question number one Mr Speaker. The provision of quality

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accommodation is at the heart of the Armed Forces covenants. Around 94%

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of the UK service family accommodation is at decent standard

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or above. Only service family accommodation of the standards will

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be allocated to new occupants. Since April 2016 around 14 and a half

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thousand kitchens, bathrooms, kitchens, roofs, and some thousands

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of new boys have been installed. Thank you for the response that the

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arms forces continuous attitude survey in 2016 showed a significant

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drop in satisfaction amongst those living in service family

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accommodation with a decrease of seven percentage points to just 50%.

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Can the Minister assure the House that a further drop in satisfaction

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would lead to urgent action being taken? I can but I'm confident after

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the intervention last year and the get well planned that was in the

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Druze we have seen significant improvement which may not have yet

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to filter down. The recent stats from that show we have risen to a

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61% satisfaction rate. We take this very seriously which is why I'm

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keeping a close eye on it and I believe the standard should improve.

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Mr Speaker, could I congratulate my honourable friend on the progress

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they have made on the contract that would he agree with me that

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continuing to have service family accommodation is absolutely critical

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in providing a supportive arrangement for families when their

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loved ones are away on operations are indeed upon extended exercises?

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I think what our want is choice and support. What I would say to my

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honourable friend is that only last week I visited Salisbury Plain and

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where I saw some 1000 brand-new service family personnel, they do

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take the matter seriously and I'm confident that SFA will continue to

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be provided and some of those homes are a first-rate standard but it is

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about trying to support the modern lifestyle of our service families in

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the way that they work. A recent survey on the future of military

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housing showed that if SFA was reduced in favour of a rental

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allowance, 30% would leave the army and a further 46% would consider

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leaving. What does the Minister think the Government's future

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accommodation model would do for retention rates? It is all about

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choice and if the honourable Member looked at the survey he would

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realise that the overwhelming number of young soldiers, sailors and

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airmen support the model that we are supposing. We are yet to make any

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firm decision, we have reduced it to seven options that I will keep the

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House fully informed as we progress. Thank you Mr Speaker, whilst I

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welcome the comments, so far we still have 40,000 members who have

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not been consulted on the future accommodation model and for those

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that have there is anxiety as to whether the SFA remains a real

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option. I will refer to the earlier comments as I say only last week I

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visited Salisbury Plain where we are building 1000 new SFA units. SFA

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will remain an option but it is absolutely clear that one size does

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not fit all and depending where you are serving in the United Kingdom,

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different options will have to be available. Mr Speaker, last November

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the National Audit Office reported and I quote exactly that, poor

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accommodation for service families is affecting the morale and the

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recruitment and retention of service personnel. In other words the

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situation is deplorable. My concern is lip service is being paid. Surely

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the goodness, warm words and tinkering is not enough, real action

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is needed. Why would the minister acknowledged this and not introduce

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improvements quickly? I'm disappointed to hear the honourable

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Member's comments, only last year some ?64 million was invested in

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service family accommodation, next year will be investing some ?80

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million, perhaps rather than sitting on the green benches in Parliament,

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he would like to take up my offer to see some of the new build that we

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are building. Here it is, so come rather than constantly carping. When

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service personnel are on active service abroad, the last thing they

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need our problems with the domestic arrangements and accommodation at

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home so will the Minister and short when service personnel are an active

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deployment that the helpline works perfectly for the partners at home.

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I think my honourable friend makes a valuable point. I think when spouses

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are overseas, this is absolutely the time when they must focus on

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offering support. I will look very carefully at what my honourable

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friend says. Does the Minister agree that accommodation is central to

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satisfaction rate and Woody therefore agreed that after

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investing the money in Chester it would be a false economy to now

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close down the barracks? The driver for the better defence is military

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capability, it is important that we have good quality accommodation and

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as he knows it would be relocated in his part of the world and we will

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carefully at that. Question to. I regularly discuss the need to reform

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Nato including the new secretary of defence James Mattis who I met at

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the Nato defence Mr meeting last month. We want Nato to become

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genuinely adaptable which is less bureaucratic, faster and better at

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making decisions and to respond more effectively till wide range of

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threats including cyber, hybrid international terrorism. Thank the

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Minister for his response and I would ask with the Nato operation in

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Afghanistan, still it is most significant, will my right

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honourable friend join me in paying tribute to all of those who have

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served and agreed that this underlines that Nato has the

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comparability is to combat terror and going into the future would be

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more? Yes. We remember the service and sacrifice of those who fought

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terrorism in Afghanistan. Our commitment as part of the resolute

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support mission remains crucial in helping to build the capacity of the

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Afghan security forces to defend their country as my honourable

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friend implies. It is Nato that has the mandate, the operational

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experience and the tools to help the fight against international

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terrorism and we will continue to push Nato to do more in the Middle

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East and North Africa. Can I ask the Secretary of State when he has had

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discussions with his US counterpart on what he thought about the

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capabilities of Nato in terms of dealing with Russia and elsewhere?

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This is the year in which Nato is deploying its enhanced forward

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presence and Britain is leading that deployment and we will, our troops

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would be leaving for Estonia this week and will be deploying in Poland

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and in Romania. The best way to reassure our allies in Nato and to

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deter any aggression is for Nato to stand up. It has been made clear to

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start at a recent assembly Nato has a of allies on the Hill on Congress

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on both sides, does my right honourable friend agree that he

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needs to make the case to Europe stepping up to commitment to spend

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at least 2% of GDP on defence? We will make that commitment, the

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United States, ourselves and the rest of Nato back at the oral summit

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2.5 years ago. We meet the spending target and we continue to press our

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allies to step up to the plate and do so too. Can I push the Secretary

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of State to tell the House, but by the American saying about what size

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Nato should be? Not just a percentage of GDP but how big should

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it be, how does it compare with the strength of the Russians and what

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will we do if the Russians invaded across some of the countries in

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Europe? To be responded to with the legendary prisoner so the Secretary

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of State. The purpose of the Alliance, America want to see all

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members of the alliance making a fairer contribution to the overall

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standing. The collective nature of the defence has been underlined by

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invoking article five only once before in favour of the United

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States. Number three Mr Speaker. With the mission missed this week I

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would like to answer questions three and 15 together. The 2016 Cumberland

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annual report demonstrates the progress that has been made since

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the covenant was enshrined by law. Today I am pleased to announce a new

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initiative by the main broadband providers. Personnel posted to a

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location not covered by their current provider can now cancel

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their broadband without incurring any additional fees, I would like to

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thank beat C, E, plus net, talk Councillor McCarthy in Rochdale

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Council go above and beyond when it comes to delivering the Armed Forces

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covenants, this includes having a dedicated council officer to ensure

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that those who fought for our country are properly looked after.

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Will the Minister congratulates Rochdale Council in its successes

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and encourage other councils to follow suit? I heartily congratulate

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and thank all those at Rochdale Borough Council and the honourable

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member for their efforts. They've introduced measures that make a real

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difference to the Armed Forces community. These range from

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practical support to our ex-service community seeking social housing to

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the naming of streets in recognition of their local Armed Forces heroes.

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I commend this fine example and wish them well in their support of the

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covenant. There is an amazing work being undertaken by the British

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Legion and other charities across the UK. The head of the Armed Forces

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charity has warned that the Armed Forces government lacks bite and

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many local authorities think it is an option rather than an obligation.

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Can the Minister tell us more about the government is doing to reinforce

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how essential the covenant actually is? There is acceptance across this

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House over how important it is. Every local authority in the UK has

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signed the covenant. Last year we sent out a survey to try and

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establish better practice. We now move onto the next page which is to

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ensure that we are looking carefully at the authorities and other

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organisations that are not doing what they said they would do.

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Ultimately, we can revoke the agreement with them, but I would

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like to think we would never get to that stage. Can he say a bit more

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about the corporate governance, the business element of the covenant, so

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many companies make attempts to help service families and personnel. As

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my honourable friend knows, we have now combine both the community

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covenant and the corporate covenant into the Armed Forces covenants. I

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would buy later this week we would be in a position where 1500 but must

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-- 1500 businesses have signed up to this. It is a two-way deal word is a

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case for the Armed Forces also through the skill sets that we give

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to our Armed Forces personnel to provide skills that will help

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businesses as well. Could the Minister help me please replied the

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department will be spending the savings bid from the cancellation of

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a contract to improve communications were serving personnel? Since its

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peak, the use of Ede police has produced by 96%. Sometimes it can

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cost ?17. All of the money that has been saved will be reinvested and

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there is no where overseas who don't have access to the Internet, but we

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are looking carefully to ensure that nobody will be disadvantaged when

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the new services introduced. At a recent session of the Defence Select

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Committee I shared with the Minister correspondence from the Ben Health

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Minister from Northern Ireland, neither leader of Sinn Fein in

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Northern Ireland, who pointedly said the Armed Forces covenant does not

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apply here. What advice and guidance can the Minister give in this face

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of such intransigence? We all understand that the Armed Forces

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covenant applies throughout the United Kingdom. I appreciate there

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are specific challenges in Northern Ireland. I have said that they're

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making that a priority this year and I will be visiting Northern Ireland

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very shortly. Question number four, Mr Speaker. 365 days a year the

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Royal Navy are deployed. Whether maintaining our contingency,

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providing reassurance for overseas territories, or to counter

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narcotics, we will be there when we are needed. Given that the Ministry

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of Defence has confirmed that Plymouth will be the centre for the

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Royal Marines, has my right honourable friend considered basing

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all of the type 23 is in Devonport? We will be looking very carefully at

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exactly where as the new ships come on stream and the huge expenditure,

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?63 billion of expenditure, on the Royal Navy in the next few years.

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I'm sure as we look at that we will make sure Devonport gets a very

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good-looking. One of the key roles of the Royal Navy is to meet the

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Nato commitments we have. Could he say whether or not the new type 31

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frigate will actually be able to meet those commitments in Nato? I am

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sure when the type 23 frigates comes in its... Type 31, I apologise. We

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commit with Nato around the world. HMS Ocean has just returned from the

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Gulf. HMS daring is just back from the Straits of her movies. I was

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woken in the early hours because one of our civilian yachts was in

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distress with the crew of 14 and injured, that type 45 sale 500 miles

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to rescue them. That is exactly what her Navy is for. Clearly, the role

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of the Royal Navy going forward will be even more important in the

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future, could my honourable friend update the house on exactly how many

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ships will be bought and what type of ships they will be? We will have

:17:24.:17:31.

new frigates, new submarines, new aircraft carriers, new patrol

:17:32.:17:35.

vessels to support them. ?63 billion of expenditure going forward. The

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Royal Navy are at the forefront of tackling the migration crisis in the

:17:43.:17:49.

Mediterranean by training the Libyan coast guard. Are they not allowed to

:17:50.:17:55.

enter Libyan waters are supposed international waters, because that

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is the way to stop the people traffickers sending the votes in the

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place? He is absolutely right. We have been pressing for this for some

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time. We have been training Coast Guard and we want to do more but at

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the moment we can't enter that area. For some two decades Nato has my

:18:14.:18:22.

focus has been largely land-based. When I acknowledge that the threat

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is increasingly going to come in the north Atlantic and Arctic,

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particularly with the reinvention of the Russian concept, and Nato will

:18:32.:18:36.

have to turn its attention back to that area of threat. Ensure that we

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would all agree that the Royal Navy is capable of doing what we ask it

:18:44.:18:48.

to do and like we had is with the return to Eastern Europe for me. We

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are turned away from that situation, with land event is an air defences,

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that is what the Royal Navy will be doing as well. We have astute class

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submarines which are too slow to keep up with the US carriers, we

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have no maritime patrol aircraft, we are also waiting for the type 26

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contract to be signed and still no sign of the shipbuilding strategy.

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At a time when Russian incursions are going through the waters at cold

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water levels, does the Minister agree with me that it is time for

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the Scottish people to take these decisions for themselves and defend

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our country? If the Scottish people want to have their Armed Forces

:19:35.:19:37.

rundown and tomorrow lies they should listen to what the gentleman

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has just said. Does my right honourable friend agree with me that

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after we leave the European Union this is something that we should

:19:52.:19:55.

continue to use fully cooperate with our European neighbours on? We are

:19:56.:20:01.

leaving the European Union, not leaving Europe. We continue to

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consider what we can do with our European friends, even though we

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will be leaving the European Union. Last week there were reports of

:20:10.:20:13.

increased activity and a number of ships move in and check the UK

:20:14.:20:18.

waters having deactivated their tracking system. A separate ship

:20:19.:20:24.

called in health -- called into Algeria Ben Moreau got the coast of

:20:25.:20:29.

either in my constituency. With this increased level of suspicious

:20:30.:20:32.

activity and Scotland's proximity to the Arctic that we have a sufficient

:20:33.:20:38.

number of large surface ships to meet that threat? The ships don't

:20:39.:20:45.

have to be based in Scotland to protect Scotland and protect the

:20:46.:20:48.

United Kingdom. They are at sea and that is what they should be doing

:20:49.:20:54.

and that is what we are doing. How can the Minister said that they

:20:55.:20:57.

don't need to be based in Scotland to protect Scotland's underworld's

:20:58.:21:02.

hotspot is the high North Sea and Arctic. Does the Minister think that

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having no large Royal Navy surface ships based in Scotland is the best

:21:08.:21:11.

way to protect Scotland and to meet our obligations to our Nordic

:21:12.:21:16.

neighbours and allies in the high North? All of our submarines,

:21:17.:21:21.

including the nuclear deterrent, but that party wants to get rid of our

:21:22.:21:26.

based in Scotland. Ships at sea is what we need not hiding imports.

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Number five, Mr Speaker. The department's career transition

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partnership provides a robust and effective system to protect service

:21:40.:21:42.

personnel entering the civilian workforce. It provides one-to-one

:21:43.:21:50.

advice and guidance and training opportunities to 15,000 service

:21:51.:21:54.

personnel each year. It is entirely unacceptable that the unemployment

:21:55.:21:57.

rate for veterans should be a third higher than that for non-veterans.

:21:58.:22:02.

Service personnel have said to me they find it difficult to translate

:22:03.:22:07.

their important experience on the battlefield into the softer skills

:22:08.:22:10.

that industry requires to date, such as teamwork, management,

:22:11.:22:16.

communications except. What is he specifically doing to address that?

:22:17.:22:20.

I have no idea with the honourable lady gets her facts from -- where

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the honourable lady gets facts from. 85% of bird service personnel find

:22:29.:22:33.

implement within six months which is 10% higher than the UK population.

:22:34.:22:41.

Service leavers have been highly trained and possess highly

:22:42.:22:44.

transferable skills which add value to any company. What more can be

:22:45.:22:48.

done to ensure that civilian employers understand the value of

:22:49.:22:53.

former service personnel? I think this is exactly where the Armed

:22:54.:22:56.

Forces covenant comes in and why we must be so careful in the size when

:22:57.:23:01.

he seemed determined sometimes to talk our veterans died. The sort of

:23:02.:23:04.

skills that they can bring to civilian companies are very valuable

:23:05.:23:09.

and something that reinforced by that 95% of our recruits join an

:23:10.:23:17.

apprenticeship scheme. Our affair printer some of the most

:23:18.:23:20.

hard-working dedicated and experienced men and women that any

:23:21.:23:24.

employer could ask for yet many of us have heard troubling stories of

:23:25.:23:27.

discrimination against former service men and women in the jobs

:23:28.:23:31.

market. Does the Minister agree that we should act to make discrimination

:23:32.:23:36.

against the forces community are legal in order to protect our

:23:37.:23:38.

service personnel from any prejudice service personnel from any prejudice

:23:39.:23:43.

they may face? I welcome him to the dispatch box and couldn't agree more

:23:44.:23:46.

with his opening comments and perhaps he needs to educate his

:23:47.:23:50.

colleagues about that. This is precisely why we have the Armed

:23:51.:23:53.

Forces covenant because this is what we are trying to do through that

:23:54.:23:57.

mechanism to ensure that the value of veterans is fully understood but

:23:58.:24:01.

the wider society. Question number six. Ministers have regular

:24:02.:24:08.

discussions with international counterparts on Nato's 2% of GDP

:24:09.:24:14.

spending target. It is important that all Nato allies meet the 2%

:24:15.:24:18.

commitment then made at the wheel summit in 2014. Can the Minister

:24:19.:24:24.

name which of our Nato allies do not currently spend 2% of GDP on defence

:24:25.:24:29.

and what excuses are given for not doing so? Click 23 that don't spent

:24:30.:24:41.

2% would take too long to list, but I can reassure my honourable friend

:24:42.:24:46.

that the five that to meet the 2% target by the US, the UK, Poland,

:24:47.:24:51.

Greece and Estonia and I'm sure my honourable friend can't deduce the

:24:52.:24:59.

absentees. Germany currently spends 1.23% of GDP, 36 billion euros. This

:25:00.:25:07.

then 2% it would need to almost double that to 60 billion euros.

:25:08.:25:17.

Does the Minister appreciate that are rearmed Germany would

:25:18.:25:21.

concern to some of their neighbours, concern to some of their neighbours,

:25:22.:25:25.

but also to Russia? It would in fact potentially increase the difficulty

:25:26.:25:30.

is that we face with tensions on the Russian border? With the greatest

:25:31.:25:38.

respect, we think it is incredibly important that all of the countries

:25:39.:25:45.

that are members of Nato, that share the responsibility, joint

:25:46.:25:47.

responsibility, for the defence of the Alliance have all committed to

:25:48.:25:54.

spend 2% at the Nato conference in Wales in 2014 and we welcome the

:25:55.:25:58.

fact that there are now eight further countries that are on a

:25:59.:26:03.

clear trajectory to me that 2% and we continue to have discussions,

:26:04.:26:07.

ministers across all departments of government, to encourage them to

:26:08.:26:15.

reach that 2%. I thought that was an extraordinary statement about

:26:16.:26:18.

Germany, I'd associate myself from her remarks. How many people come to

:26:19.:26:25.

the dispatch box to say the same thing? Some of our European partners

:26:26.:26:29.

take this whole thing for granted and know that we are the Americans

:26:30.:26:32.

picked up the bill. What are we going to do to get them to pay what

:26:33.:26:39.

they should pay? I like to reassure my honourable friend that there is

:26:40.:26:43.

progress, five countries now meet the 2% target, up from three in

:26:44.:26:48.

2014. There are now ten countries that meet the 20% pledge on major

:26:49.:26:54.

equipment and research and the cuts to defence spending overall have

:26:55.:26:59.

been halted. I'm sure that everyone could agree with the sentiments

:27:00.:27:02.

expressed that we cannot reiterate this too often, that we do hope that

:27:03.:27:08.

everyone will reach the 2% pledge soon. Last month the International

:27:09.:27:15.

Institute for strategic studies concluded that the government had

:27:16.:27:20.

missed the 2% Nato defence spending target and would have missed it by

:27:21.:27:23.

even more evident not included budgetary having such as pensions

:27:24.:27:28.

that do not contribute to our defence capabilities and were not

:27:29.:27:32.

included when Labour was in government. Is it not time that we

:27:33.:27:36.

went back to the criteria used for defence spending when this party was

:27:37.:27:41.

in power so we may give our Armed Forces the resources they need. I

:27:42.:27:50.

wonder if he has read the report of a Roman House of Commons Select

:27:51.:27:54.

Committee which says that they commend the UK Government's

:27:55.:27:59.

commitment to UK defence and finds that it's accounting criteria for

:28:00.:28:02.

firmly within existing native guidelines as does Nato itself. What

:28:03.:28:06.

would be worrying is that we followed his party who wants to see

:28:07.:28:11.

cuts to defence spending, abandonment of our Nato allies and

:28:12.:28:15.

scrapping of the nuclear deterrent. May I suggest there is one way she

:28:16.:28:27.

could avoid these arguments and that is to recognise that the last time

:28:28.:28:29.

we faced threats I appreciate my honourable friend's

:28:30.:28:52.

campaign but we are proud of the fact that we are spending more than

:28:53.:28:57.

the 2% and we have a growing defence budget for the first time for many

:28:58.:29:04.

years and we are on track to have a ?178 billion equipment plan over the

:29:05.:29:11.

next decade. With permission, I would like to answer this question.

:29:12.:29:17.

Iraqi forces continue to make good progress against Daesh. Yesterday,

:29:18.:29:27.

RAF Typhoon is supported them by demolishing a Daesh base. There are

:29:28.:29:40.

ten kilometres from the stronghold in Raqqa. Can my right honourable

:29:41.:29:48.

friend confirm that British forces and the coalition will continue to

:29:49.:29:51.

maintain pressure on Daesh and develop plans? Yes, we want to keep

:29:52.:30:01.

up the pressure on both. Forces are making good progress. Senior

:30:02.:30:07.

coalition officers, including from the UK, are working on how the

:30:08.:30:22.

coalition might support Raqqa. Recent reports from Iraqi state that

:30:23.:30:28.

mass graves have been uncovered in territory formerly held by Daesh.

:30:29.:30:35.

Can I ask the Ministry of Defence what support they are offering the

:30:36.:30:39.

Iraqi government to ensure these perpetrators are brought to justice

:30:40.:30:44.

swiftly? I'm grateful to the honourable lady. We are working to

:30:45.:30:53.

see how we can accumulate the evidence of those from Daesh, so

:30:54.:30:56.

they can be properly brought to justice, either in Iraqi or

:30:57.:31:02.

elsewhere. Will my right honourable friend update the house on how the

:31:03.:31:07.

coalition is monitoring the dispersal of Daesh fighters from

:31:08.:31:13.

Iraqi to other theatres? We work with other countries in the region

:31:14.:31:18.

to coordinate efforts to manage the threat posed by the dispersal of

:31:19.:31:25.

fighters. Around 30-40,000 extremists around the world travel

:31:26.:31:32.

to Syria and Iraq. Many will be killed in combat or relocate to

:31:33.:31:41.

other areas. Our current assessment is the large-scale dispersal is

:31:42.:31:49.

unlikely. Independent monitors report the International coalition

:31:50.:31:52.

has killed as many as 370 civilians in air strikes in one month. Have

:31:53.:32:00.

they investigated these claims and can they us that the UK deaths will

:32:01.:32:05.

not include that the UK strikes will not include this? The Royal air

:32:06.:32:11.

force make every effort to minimise the risk of civilian casualties. We

:32:12.:32:18.

work very closely with organisations where there are allegations that

:32:19.:32:21.

civilians have died as a result of coalition air strikes and we want to

:32:22.:32:24.

see those allegations fully investigated. Can my right

:32:25.:32:30.

honourable friend reassure the house we've done everything to help local

:32:31.:32:36.

and indigenous forces on the ground in relation to the liberation of

:32:37.:32:42.

Mosul and elimination of Daesh, not only equipment but access to medical

:32:43.:32:47.

care, what they are doing with their wounded, expertise... I can give my

:32:48.:32:53.

honourable friend that assurance and I'm proud British forces have

:32:54.:32:58.

trained nearly 40,000 Iraqi and Kurdish troops. Much of that

:32:59.:33:06.

training has been devoted to reducing the casualties they are

:33:07.:33:15.

likely to face and the operations to liberate Mosul. We've obviously seen

:33:16.:33:27.

significant progress in Mosul and I'm sure the house joins us in

:33:28.:33:32.

sending praise and gratitude to those serving. I wonder what you can

:33:33.:33:37.

tell me we are learning from her success to apply them to the battle?

:33:38.:33:47.

I will do my best. The campaign in Mosul is particularly complicated.

:33:48.:33:52.

Mosul, the West in particular, is a dense urban area, twice the density

:33:53.:33:58.

of the East, and precision strikes are all the more difficult for

:33:59.:34:03.

coalition aircraft. But as the campaign goes on, the use of

:34:04.:34:08.

precision air power and the training the Iraqi forces have received make

:34:09.:34:15.

it more likely they will be successful, both in Iraq and in

:34:16.:34:20.

Syria. What can be done to ensure that liberated Sunni communities

:34:21.:34:27.

will be embraced by the political economy of Iraq? My honourable

:34:28.:34:31.

friend is absolutely right that we need to stabilise these areas as

:34:32.:34:35.

quickly as possible, not simply in giving them access to essential

:34:36.:34:42.

services but in encouraging process to ensure the SUNY areas -- the

:34:43.:34:49.

Sunni areas, that they feel they have a sufficient stake in the

:34:50.:34:53.

future development of Iraqi. That is a point I made to the Prime Minister

:34:54.:35:04.

of Iraqi. Has the UK Government received any requests from allies to

:35:05.:35:09.

deploy drone troops in and around the fight against Daesh and if this

:35:10.:35:15.

came in would the parliament have an opportunity to vote on it? I've been

:35:16.:35:19.

clear with this house that we are not committing combat troops to

:35:20.:35:27.

Syria. I referred to coalition commanders. We are not committing

:35:28.:35:32.

combat troops to the fight in Syria and if we did we would come back to

:35:33.:35:39.

Parliament. Would my right honourable friend confirm the

:35:40.:35:47.

importance we place on our collaboration with the Egyptian

:35:48.:35:52.

government and their fight against Daesh? I can confirm that. I met the

:35:53.:35:59.

chief of defence staff of rejects on his recent visit to this country and

:36:00.:36:07.

Egypt has a big part to play in ensuring the different factions and

:36:08.:36:12.

loyalties in Libya can be brought together for a political settlement

:36:13.:36:19.

in the country. On my recent visit to Cyprus I was very pleased to meet

:36:20.:36:24.

the crews who work night and day to keep up the fight. I'm concerned

:36:25.:36:33.

there is currently no specific medal to recognise the dedication and

:36:34.:36:35.

bravery of the service men and women available. They are protecting

:36:36.:36:45.

citizens from the threat posed by Daesh. Will the Secretary of State

:36:46.:36:49.

commits to recognising the service with a specific medal? I am glad the

:36:50.:36:57.

honourable lady had a successful visit and I'm sure the house will

:36:58.:37:03.

join her in recognising and thanking our brave service men and women who

:37:04.:37:10.

have committed tirelessly to this campaign. So far as the issue of the

:37:11.:37:18.

medal is concerned, we are keeping that under review and as soon as a

:37:19.:37:27.

decision is made on the appropriate recognition, an announcement will be

:37:28.:37:37.

made to the house. It is heartening to see the progress being made to

:37:38.:37:47.

liberate morsel, and yet we know this was only part of the campaign.

:37:48.:37:55.

As the focus will turn to Syria, can the Secretary of State tell us in

:37:56.:37:59.

greater detail what role he expects the RAF to play in the battle for

:38:00.:38:09.

Daesh strongholds? It is important to recognise that Daesh have lost a

:38:10.:38:12.

considerable amount of ground in Syria as well as Iraqi. They play a

:38:13.:38:24.

major part in carrying out precision strikes as recently as yesterday. We

:38:25.:38:32.

will continue to play that part, providing precision air strikes,

:38:33.:38:35.

gathering intelligence from the hour and are doing what we can to make

:38:36.:38:41.

sure that they are driven out of Syria. The strategy strengthens the

:38:42.:38:54.

historic role of the Navy. Royal Navy ships are deployed around the

:38:55.:39:01.

globe, supporting economic interests. I believe she was waving

:39:02.:39:09.

the flag for Britain and our exports with HMS Penzance in Abu Dhabi.

:39:10.:39:16.

Doesn't she agree it is not just protecting the seaways but also

:39:17.:39:23.

waving the flag and promoting exports. I was delighted to be

:39:24.:39:36.

welcomed on board HMS Penzance and thank the crew for the valuable

:39:37.:39:40.

contribution they are making. The Royal Navy will deploy ships. Only

:39:41.:39:51.

last week, HMS Ocean visited Beirut, acting as a showcase for Midlands

:39:52.:40:00.

industry. When the United Kingdom leaves the EU, can my right

:40:01.:40:08.

honourable friend assure me that we will have enough Royal Navy ships to

:40:09.:40:14.

ensure that our assurers and trade routes and commitments are met? He's

:40:15.:40:21.

right to highlight the importance of the Royal Navy. It prepares to

:40:22.:40:30.

welcome submarines, frigates, aircraft.

:40:31.:40:37.

Number nine, Mr Speaker. The MoD is conducting assessments at sites

:40:38.:40:45.

which is expected to take between 12 and 18 months to complete. Good

:40:46.:40:55.

progress is being made. In launching the review, the Minister said that

:40:56.:40:59.

it would release land to boost local economies. The disposal of land has

:41:00.:41:10.

to follow Treasury guidelines, but for example in his own constituency

:41:11.:41:17.

I am glad that Angus Council have expressed an interest in purchasing

:41:18.:41:21.

the land and delighted that progress is continuing on Thursday when our

:41:22.:41:27.

officials will meet council officials. I wonder what

:41:28.:41:31.

consideration has been given to the deuce of the Ballykeel site in

:41:32.:41:36.

Northern Ireland for social housing or housing for veterans in Northern

:41:37.:41:41.

Ireland? There have been discussions recently over the potential use of

:41:42.:41:45.

the accommodation at that site and those discussions will continue. The

:41:46.:41:52.

honourable member for Sleaford and North Hykeham is also a doctor and

:41:53.:41:56.

erroneously the fact that she a doctor was not listed on the paper,

:41:57.:42:02.

so I hope that won't happen again. Doctor Caroline Johnson.

:42:03.:42:12.

Questionable ten, Mr Speaker. In 2015 the government committed ?50

:42:13.:42:15.

million to increase the number of cadet units in the UK state school

:42:16.:42:22.

sector. This joint Ministry of Defence and Department for Education

:42:23.:42:29.

project targeted areas of social and economic deprivation. We are on

:42:30.:42:38.

target to hit 500 by 2020. The Lincolnshire Army Cadet Force to

:42:39.:42:41.

valuable work with young people, particularly the two Squadron

:42:42.:42:44.

detachment based on Sleaford. I am delighted that so many people in the

:42:45.:42:48.

county have a chance to become a cadet that this is not the case

:42:49.:42:52.

everywhere. Can he confirmed that he will prioritise approval of new

:42:53.:42:57.

units in areas where young people do not have the opportunity to become a

:42:58.:43:04.

cadet? I was an academic and Army before I joined the Armed Forces so

:43:05.:43:13.

I need to declare an interest. Can I say to my honourable friend that

:43:14.:43:18.

this on Georges and can be in her constituency has expressed an

:43:19.:43:21.

interest and we hope to give them an indication in the autumn if that has

:43:22.:43:27.

been approved. Question number 11. Add better defence estate is a

:43:28.:43:32.

military led review. The estate optimisation was developed in

:43:33.:43:35.

consultation with senior military officers to optimise the vent in the

:43:36.:43:40.

structure to better support military capability. The MoD will continue to

:43:41.:43:44.

engage with local authorities to maximise local economic development

:43:45.:43:47.

as well as value for money for defence. It would result in over 500

:43:48.:43:55.

civilian and contractor jobs lost in York, a local economy already

:43:56.:43:58.

struggling. Why isn't the Minister of following JSP 507 which

:43:59.:44:05.

determines that a social impact assessment has to take place first

:44:06.:44:09.

and work across government to make sure we can secure jobs in York. The

:44:10.:44:16.

site she talks about is due for disposal in 2031, in 14 years. We

:44:17.:44:21.

will be following all due process but the economic impact is as much a

:44:22.:44:25.

useful document for the local authority to see what gaps may come

:44:26.:44:28.

as a result of the estate being closed so we can work closely with

:44:29.:44:35.

local authority so we can move forward. Further Jim meeting last

:44:36.:44:39.

week with the Minister regarding housing at Ballykeel and army camp

:44:40.:44:44.

and further to the question from the honourable member for South Antrim,

:44:45.:44:48.

good the Minister detail the nature of those further discussions and

:44:49.:44:54.

what detail will be provided to ensure that those houses are

:44:55.:45:03.

released to meet unmet housing need? We did discuss this in detail last

:45:04.:45:08.

week so I think it is perhaps that ice will simply do as I said I would

:45:09.:45:13.

do in that meeting and write to June course. Question number 12. I have

:45:14.:45:18.

regular discussions with the Chancellor, burst Spending Review

:45:19.:45:21.

about spending plans for the remainder of this Parliament. The

:45:22.:45:24.

Chancellor confirmed last Wednesday that the government is committed to

:45:25.:45:29.

growing the defence budget and not .5% inflation each year until 2021.

:45:30.:45:40.

The defence budget will rise from ?35 billion this year. Almost ?40

:45:41.:45:44.

billion by the end of this Parliament. Why does the

:45:45.:45:50.

government's defence spending return to Nato include ?1 billion of

:45:51.:45:57.

civilian pensions? These don't contribute to our defence and were

:45:58.:46:00.

not included under a Labour government. Concern over these

:46:01.:46:05.

accounting tricks undermine confidence in our defence spending

:46:06.:46:13.

targets. The returned that we make to Nato captures all of the spending

:46:14.:46:18.

that false to the defence budget and it is for Nato to decide whether

:46:19.:46:24.

that return is properly completed. A committee of the size find the

:46:25.:46:29.

accounting criteria but falls firmly within existing Nato guidelines.

:46:30.:46:32.

Question number 16. As part of an ongoing programme on

:46:33.:46:47.

land that is surplus to defence requirements is sold in accordance

:46:48.:46:52.

set at the Treasury. This release of site supports the department's

:46:53.:46:55.

contributing to the public sector land release target to help the

:46:56.:47:03.

housing shortage and contribute to economic development. Some people

:47:04.:47:07.

will be concerned with the release of MoD land but I think for people

:47:08.:47:13.

who want a home or business premises, this can't come quickly

:47:14.:47:18.

enough. Indeed. I would point the hosted the recent sale of the whole

:47:19.:47:23.

Abington site and I'm delighted that was Bob Iser James Dyson. While it

:47:24.:47:26.

may not be going directly to housing it will become the Dyson global

:47:27.:47:31.

Randy Hub which will bring much-needed economic development to

:47:32.:47:35.

the area. Topical questions. Niall Carmichael. Our priorities remain

:47:36.:47:44.

operations against Daesh and implementing a Strategic Defence

:47:45.:47:48.

Review. Last Thursday her mad to see the Queen and build a monument to

:47:49.:47:51.

the surface sacrifice of our Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. For

:47:52.:47:55.

too long those troops faced false allegations made by Mr Phil Shiner

:47:56.:48:01.

and my department supplied evidence that finally saw him struck off last

:48:02.:48:07.

month. I am therefore pleased to confirm that the Iraq historic

:48:08.:48:11.

allegations team will close by the summer. With Sweden announcing they

:48:12.:48:20.

are planning and reintroducing conscription, does that signal and

:48:21.:48:23.

awareness from countries like Sweden that there is an increasing problem

:48:24.:48:26.

from Russia and elsewhere and should that be translated for supporting 2%

:48:27.:48:36.

of GDP in this supporting defence. Europe faces a wide range of

:48:37.:48:44.

threats. European nations meet the capabilities to respond and the

:48:45.:48:47.

funding to provide those capabilities. I'm reminded of a

:48:48.:48:50.

meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers last week, of the

:48:51.:48:55.

importance of all of us who are members of Nato of meeting that Nato

:48:56.:49:03.

spending target. Outsourcing of public services frequently results

:49:04.:49:07.

in lower levels of staffing, less continuity, less training and

:49:08.:49:11.

vetting. Given that the MoD guard service was set up in the wake of

:49:12.:49:14.

the 1989 bombing of the Royal Marines building in deal when 11

:49:15.:49:20.

Marines died and failures by private security firms were identified, will

:49:21.:49:23.

the government recognised the sensitivity of the work done but the

:49:24.:49:27.

MoD guards and abandon plans to privatise the service? Lefty make it

:49:28.:49:33.

clear that we are currently considering the options for the

:49:34.:49:37.

future provision of an effective unarmed guarding service throughout

:49:38.:49:40.

the United Kingdom which at the moment is being provided by a

:49:41.:49:46.

multiplicity of different services. The aim is to achieve maximum value

:49:47.:49:50.

for money to ensure that we can focus resources on military

:49:51.:49:56.

capability, but security remains a priority and no decisions will be

:49:57.:50:01.

made which would compromise the security of our personnel, our

:50:02.:50:06.

information or her physical assets. Can my right honourable friend is

:50:07.:50:17.

recall a time when... When a deployment of British forces to Nato

:50:18.:50:21.

has not been supported by the whole house? We have a long history of

:50:22.:50:26.

supporting our allies. I am disappointed that the Leader of the

:50:27.:50:30.

Opposition has described this week's defence of deployments to Estonia

:50:31.:50:36.

and Poland as escalator really. I hope that the Shadow Defence

:50:37.:50:39.

Secretary will take this opportunity to condemn those remarks today. The

:50:40.:50:47.

Duke of Lancaster Regiment headquarters and Hussein will be

:50:48.:50:50.

sold off well at 2nd Battalion woollies have of its complement of

:50:51.:50:55.

soldiers moved onto short, just one regular infantry battalion in the

:50:56.:51:01.

north-west by 2020. This regiment has no headquarters identified after

:51:02.:51:06.

2022. What message does this government think that it serves to

:51:07.:51:11.

serving service men and women in this part of the world? The best

:51:12.:51:18.

message we can send is to that unit that they are one of the best units

:51:19.:51:25.

in the British Army. We will support them all the way through and at the

:51:26.:51:29.

same time we must get the best estates for the best parts of the

:51:30.:51:35.

Army. 35 years on, our Armed Forces still play a vital role in

:51:36.:51:39.

safeguarding security of the Falkland Islands and other British

:51:40.:51:43.

Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic. Can my right honourable

:51:44.:51:47.

friend confirm that this government is committed to maintaining a strong

:51:48.:51:49.

Armed Forces presence in the Falklands less Chamakh 35 years on

:51:50.:51:57.

we not only continue but will enhance the protection of the

:51:58.:52:01.

Falkland Islands and they know many honourable colleagues have visited

:52:02.:52:04.

the boxers recently and see the excellent work that Armed Forces do

:52:05.:52:08.

far away from home. We will continue to support them with the typhoons,

:52:09.:52:11.

the rapier and the other battalions the rapier and the other battalions

:52:12.:52:23.

that are there. But this is in my community have supplied the military

:52:24.:52:29.

for six generations. The GK's Manufacturing industry is more than

:52:30.:52:33.

capable but new Trident submarines and offshore patrol vessels are

:52:34.:52:40.

being is built using foreign scale. When will a proper strategy be

:52:41.:52:45.

developed so we can start supporting UK steel and manufacturing rather

:52:46.:52:51.

than buying off-the-shelf from abroad? Of course we want to see UK

:52:52.:52:56.

steel used wherever possible. That is why last year we published the

:52:57.:53:00.

full pipeline of steel across the whole of government that we will be

:53:01.:53:04.

needing. Of course we work with our suppliers to encourage them that

:53:05.:53:10.

weather is available steel, to include British Steel producers in

:53:11.:53:16.

the pipeline. These questions on the 30th of January I asked how many

:53:17.:53:19.

people were currently working in defence procurement and what plans

:53:20.:53:22.

the government has to reduce it. She has written to me and said that

:53:23.:53:27.

11,500 people are working in procurement. Given that this equates

:53:28.:53:33.

to a people per ship in the Royal Navy, 14 people per aircraft and the

:53:34.:53:38.

royal air force and one procurement person per seven soldiers, will she

:53:39.:53:41.

know say what steps the government will take to reduce this extremely

:53:42.:53:50.

large number of people? I would like to emphasise to make honourable

:53:51.:53:52.

friend that a lot of those people will be uniformed, so what happens

:53:53.:53:57.

often is that they rotate through the teams that are involved in the

:53:58.:54:03.

procurement because no one better than our uniformed personnel to

:54:04.:54:06.

decide on the requirements that are needed, but he is absolutely right

:54:07.:54:11.

that they are not immune to the need across the whole of the to continue

:54:12.:54:17.

to find ways to spend more efficiently. Last week a report was

:54:18.:54:24.

published demonstrating that the Royal Navy is no longer designed to

:54:25.:54:29.

this have control of the north Atlantic. There is not a large

:54:30.:54:36.

vessel based in Scotland. Will the strategic balance be addressed? Is

:54:37.:54:42.

yet again the Scottish National Party want to run down the Royal

:54:43.:54:45.

Navy and the fantastic work they are doing. What is important is our our

:54:46.:54:54.

submarines there, our ships their question but yes, they are. The two

:54:55.:55:00.

largest warships ever protrudes either Royal Navy are currently

:55:01.:55:06.

being fitted out in Scotland. Scotland is much use today. Could he

:55:07.:55:12.

take this opportunity to remind the house of the great defence benefits

:55:13.:55:15.

to Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom? Yes. I visited both

:55:16.:55:24.

carriers last week, they will be huge assets to the Royal Navy and

:55:25.:55:29.

for this country. Let us be clear, Scotland is getting all of the road

:55:30.:55:33.

may be's submarines, it is getting a major army base and it is getting

:55:34.:55:41.

huge investment at Lossiemouth with an additional typhoons quadrant and

:55:42.:55:45.

the deployment of a new maritime patrol aircraft. Scotland plays a

:55:46.:55:49.

huge part in the defence of the United Kingdom. The latest figures

:55:50.:55:56.

from UK Armed Forces monthly show that while 6690 joined the reserve

:55:57.:56:03.

in the last 12 months, over 5,000 left. What more is being done to

:56:04.:56:08.

encourage the retention of the service is? We remain ahead of

:56:09.:56:13.

target when it comes to recruiting our reserves but the key to

:56:14.:56:18.

retention, I declare my hand as a serving reservists, is that we

:56:19.:56:22.

continue to offer exciting opportunities and training within

:56:23.:56:29.

the reserves. The Saudi-led Islamic military alliance to defeat Daesh

:56:30.:56:35.

has grown from 34 members to 40 members. The role of Islamic

:56:36.:56:41.

countries in defeating Daesh is key, can my right honourable friend tell

:56:42.:56:44.

me what update he has from the Saudis on the progress made by the

:56:45.:56:51.

Saudi coalition? The role that Saudi Arabia has taken in this in leading

:56:52.:56:57.

the effort to discredit the so-called ideology of Daesh. League

:56:58.:57:03.

2 are leading work here on strategic communications and we hosted

:57:04.:57:07.

recently the latest coalition conference that brings together all

:57:08.:57:11.

of our international efforts but I'm particularly pleased that this

:57:12.:57:15.

campaign is being strengthened by the commitment of Saudi Arabia to

:57:16.:57:21.

read this religion of its appalling extremism.

:57:22.:57:30.

Following the answer from my honourable friend, can the minister

:57:31.:57:39.

name which product British Steel is being used in to safeguard British

:57:40.:57:47.

steelworkers jobs? I can inform him that we are committed to building

:57:48.:57:52.

type 26 frigates and that forms part of the sideline. We know that our

:57:53.:58:02.

main supplier is running a competition in which I believe five

:58:03.:58:09.

UK firms are participating. Doctor Gillian Lewis. Did ministers see the

:58:10.:58:21.

evidence given last Tuesday by four eminent professors of law indicating

:58:22.:58:25.

there is no legal reason why a statute of limitations cannot be

:58:26.:58:29.

brought in to prevent the founding of service personnel for Belfast

:58:30.:58:39.

agreement related matters? Will ministers join with the committee by

:58:40.:58:43.

working with us and giving evidence to us that enables a statute to be

:58:44.:58:49.

brought forward? We've been following proceedings and my right

:58:50.:58:59.

honourable friend's committee, we want any investigations to be fair,

:59:00.:59:03.

balanced and proportionate given that 90% of the deaths were caused

:59:04.:59:11.

by terrorists and not members of the security forces and we do not want

:59:12.:59:15.

to see cases reopened unless there is new and credible evidence to

:59:16.:59:25.

reopen them. We continue to hear stories of personnel without heating

:59:26.:59:30.

or being unable to take a shower, as detailed in recent reports about the

:59:31.:59:37.

Wellington Barracks. If the government really thinks it is

:59:38.:59:40.

acceptable to leave brave service men and women in these conditions,

:59:41.:59:47.

can they say this? We don't, which is precisely why we invested ?60

:59:48.:59:53.

million last year and will invest ?80 million this year. No service

:59:54.:00:04.

home that does not meet the standards, service personnel are not

:00:05.:00:10.

allowed in it. Part of my constituency has a large amount of

:00:11.:00:13.

land which will be available for housing. Will the Minister meet with

:00:14.:00:17.

me to discuss ways this can be released for urgently needed

:00:18.:00:25.

housing? I would be delighted. Can the Defence Secretary tell us what

:00:26.:00:30.

discussions he had with the US government about the announcement

:00:31.:00:33.

over the weekend of the deployment of hundreds of US Marines to Syria,

:00:34.:00:42.

what their purpose is and what cooperation will take place? I did a

:00:43.:00:49.

review of the campaign in Syria with the Defence Secretary at our meeting

:00:50.:00:53.

in Brussels a couple of weeks ago. We are not deploying combat troops

:00:54.:01:03.

but the United States is committing more support forces and working as

:01:04.:01:08.

part of the international coalition to ensure they have all the

:01:09.:01:17.

assistance and advice they need. Could the Secretary of State confirm

:01:18.:01:23.

that the deep maintenance of the engines of all British F 35 fighters

:01:24.:01:29.

will be done in Turkey and what, if any of the concerns, will be done? I

:01:30.:01:40.

can follow up with the honourable gentleman but can say that North

:01:41.:01:49.

Wales has been selected as the global hub for all maintenance and

:01:50.:02:03.

repair of avionics. We've seen there is a kill list targeting UK

:02:04.:02:07.

citizens. What happens to the commitment to come to the house at

:02:08.:02:13.

the earliest opportunity and does the kill list extend beyond

:02:14.:02:18.

geographical areas where military action has been authorised by this

:02:19.:02:30.

house? Those involved in supporting Daesh are liable to be killed by

:02:31.:02:36.

coalition forces and those who pose a very direct threat to this country

:02:37.:02:44.

are also likely, if there is no way to forestall that threat, to be

:02:45.:02:50.

targeted. Even if the defence strategy was implemented in full

:02:51.:02:57.

there would still be an ?8.5 billion budget shortfall. The strategy is

:02:58.:03:05.

absolutely fit for purpose and has been based on delivering military

:03:06.:03:10.

capability. We have less estate to look after and we can reinvest over

:03:11.:03:22.

the next 20 years. I would like to inform the host that we are visited

:03:23.:03:30.

today by the Catholic Archbishop of Burma, a country with which we have

:03:31.:03:37.

a programme of Parliamentary building. It is a delight to have

:03:38.:03:42.

him during our proceedings. It is the second time he's come in recent

:03:43.:03:45.

months. He clearly cannot get enough of us and I'm sure colleagues will

:03:46.:03:50.

want to impress the great man with the decency of their behaviour.

:03:51.:03:58.

Point of order, Patrick Grady. I would like to seek your guidance

:03:59.:04:02.

regarding the Convention of members notifying each other when they visit

:04:03.:04:05.

constituencies. On Saturday morning on the way to my surgery I came out

:04:06.:04:09.

of Hillhead subway station and met some very wet Labour supporters and

:04:10.:04:18.

when I said, are you waiting for someone special, they said they were

:04:19.:04:23.

not. Then I read on social media that the right honourable member for

:04:24.:04:27.

Islington had visited that street and undertaken a walkabout. I

:04:28.:04:33.

received no notification of this. I understand they sent an e-mail to my

:04:34.:04:34.