Live Defence Questions House of Commons

Download Subtitles



Live Defence Questions

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

Similar Content

Browse content similar to Live Defence Questions. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!



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


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


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


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


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


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


of the UK service family accommodation is at decent standard


or above. Only service family accommodation of the standards will


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


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


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


arms forces continuous attitude survey in 2016 showed a significant


drop in satisfaction amongst those living in service family


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


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


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


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


Druze we have seen significant improvement which may not have yet


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


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


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


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


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


continuing to have service family accommodation is absolutely critical


in providing a supportive arrangement for families when their


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


realise that the overwhelming number of young soldiers, sailors and


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


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


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


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


not been consulted on the future accommodation model and for those


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


accommodation for service families is affecting the morale and the


recruitment and retention of service personnel. In other words the


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


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


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


improvements quickly? I'm disappointed to hear the honourable


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


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


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


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


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


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


need our problems with the domestic arrangements and accommodation at


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


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


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


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


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


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


satisfaction rate and Woody therefore agreed that after


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


genuinely adaptable which is less bureaucratic, faster and better at


making decisions and to respond more effectively till wide range of


threats including cyber, hybrid international terrorism. Thank the


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


Afghanistan, still it is most significant, will my right


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


served and agreed that this underlines that Nato has the


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


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


terrorism in Afghanistan. Our commitment as part of the resolute


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


Afghan security forces to defend their country as my honourable


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


experience and the tools to help the fight against international


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


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


discussions with his US counterpart on what he thought about the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


members of the alliance making a fairer contribution to the overall


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


invoking article five only once before in favour of the United


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


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


annual report demonstrates the progress that has been made since


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


initiative by the main broadband providers. Personnel posted to a


location not covered by their current provider can now cancel


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


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


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


covenants, this includes having a dedicated council officer to ensure


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


Will the Minister congratulates Rochdale Council in its successes


and encourage other councils to follow suit? I heartily congratulate


and thank all those at Rochdale Borough Council and the honourable


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


difference to the Armed Forces community. These range from


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


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


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


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


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


charity has warned that the Armed Forces government lacks bite and


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


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


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


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


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


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


ensure that we are looking carefully at the authorities and other


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


to our Armed Forces personnel to provide skills that will help


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


department will be spending the savings bid from the cancellation of


a contract to improve communications were serving personnel? Since its


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


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


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


are looking carefully to ensure that nobody will be disadvantaged when


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


Committee I shared with the Minister correspondence from the Ben Health


Minister from Northern Ireland, neither leader of Sinn Fein in


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


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


of such intransigence? We all understand that the Armed Forces


covenant applies throughout the United Kingdom. I appreciate there


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


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


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


Royal Navy are deployed. Whether maintaining our contingency,


providing reassurance for overseas territories, or to counter


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


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


Royal Marines, has my right honourable friend considered basing


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


enter Libyan waters are supposed international waters, because that


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Scottish people to take these decisions for themselves and defend


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


rundown and tomorrow lies they should listen to what the gentleman


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


waters having deactivated their tracking system. A separate ship


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


either in my constituency. With this increased level of suspicious


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


partnership provides a robust and effective system to protect service


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


advice and guidance and training opportunities to 15,000 service


personnel each year. It is entirely unacceptable that the unemployment


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


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


their important experience on the battlefield into the softer skills


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


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


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


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


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


Service leavers have been highly trained and possess highly


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


done to ensure that civilian employers understand the value of


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


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


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


skills that they can bring to civilian companies are very valuable


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


apprenticeship scheme. Our affair printer some of the most


hard-working dedicated and experienced men and women that any


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


discrimination against former service men and women in the jobs


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


against the forces community are legal in order to protect our


service personnel from any prejudice service personnel from any prejudice


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


with his opening comments and perhaps he needs to educate his


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


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


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


the wider society. Question number six. Ministers have regular


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Does the Minister appreciate that are rearmed Germany would


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


ministers across all departments of government, to encourage them to


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


equipment and research and the cuts to defence spending overall have


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


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


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


Institute for strategic studies concluded that the government had


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


even more evident not included budgetary having such as pensions


that do not contribute to our defence capabilities and were not


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


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


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


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


Committee which says that they commend the UK Government's


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


firmly within existing native guidelines as does Nato itself. What


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


cuts to defence spending, abandonment of our Nato allies and


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


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


we faced threats I appreciate my honourable friend's


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


friend confirm that British forces and the coalition will continue to


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


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


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


coalition might support Raqqa. Recent reports from Iraqi state that


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


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


Iraqi government to ensure these perpetrators are brought to justice


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


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


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


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


coalition is monitoring the dispersal of Daesh fighters from


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


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


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


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


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


unlikely. Independent monitors report the International coalition


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


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


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


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


work very closely with organisations where there are allegations that


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


see those allegations fully investigated. Can my right


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


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


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


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


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


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


training has been devoted to reducing the casualties they are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Parliament. Would my right honourable friend confirm the


importance we place on our collaboration with the Egyptian


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


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


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


loyalties in Libya can be brought together for a political settlement


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


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


there is currently no specific medal to recognise the dedication and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


globe, supporting economic interests. I believe she was waving


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


welcome submarines, frigates, aircraft.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


officials will meet council officials. I wonder what


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


Northern Ireland for social housing or housing for veterans in Northern


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


sector. This joint Ministry of Defence and Department for Education


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


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


valuable work with young people, particularly the two Squadron


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


military led review. The estate optimisation was developed in


consultation with senior military officers to optimise the vent in the


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


engage with local authorities to maximise local economic development


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


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


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


determines that a social impact assessment has to take place first


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


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


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


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


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


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


week with the Minister regarding housing at Ballykeel and army camp


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


good the Minister detail the nature of those further discussions and


what detail will be provided to ensure that those houses are


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


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


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


regular discussions with the Chancellor, burst Spending Review


about spending plans for the remainder of this Parliament. The


Chancellor confirmed last Wednesday that the government is committed to


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


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


billion by the end of this Parliament. Why does the


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


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


not included under a Labour government. Concern over these


accounting tricks undermine confidence in our defence spending


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


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


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


accounting criteria but falls firmly within existing Nato guidelines.


Question number 16. As part of an ongoing programme on


land that is surplus to defence requirements is sold in accordance


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


contributing to the public sector land release target to help the


housing shortage and contribute to economic development. Some people


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


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


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


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


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


Randy Hub which will bring much-needed economic development to


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


operations against Daesh and implementing a Strategic Defence


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


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


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


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


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


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


are planning and reintroducing conscription, does that signal and


awareness from countries like Sweden that there is an increasing problem


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


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


threats. European nations meet the capabilities to respond and the


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


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


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


spending target. Outsourcing of public services frequently results


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


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


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


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


the government recognised the sensitivity of the work done but the


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


clear that we are currently considering the options for the


future provision of an effective unarmed guarding service throughout


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


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


for money to ensure that we can focus resources on military


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


made which would compromise the security of our personnel, our


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Duke of Lancaster Regiment headquarters and Hussein will be


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


safeguarding security of the Falkland Islands and other British


Overseas Territories in the South Atlantic. Can my right honourable


friend confirm that this government is committed to maintaining a strong


Armed Forces presence in the Falklands less Chamakh 35 years on


we not only continue but will enhance the protection of the


Falkland Islands and they know many honourable colleagues have visited


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


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


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


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


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


capable but new Trident submarines and offshore patrol vessels are


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


developed so we can start supporting UK steel and manufacturing rather


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


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


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


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


weather is available steel, to include British Steel producers in


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


people were currently working in defence procurement and what plans


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


procurement because no one better than our uniformed personnel to


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


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


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


published demonstrating that the Royal Navy is no longer designed to


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


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


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


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


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


largest warships ever protrudes either Royal Navy are currently


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


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


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


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


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


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


huge investment at Lossiemouth with an additional typhoons quadrant and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


continue to offer exciting opportunities and training within


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


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


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


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


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


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


2 are leading work here on strategic communications and we hosted


recently the latest coalition conference that brings together all


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


campaign is being strengthened by the commitment of Saudi Arabia to


read this religion of its appalling extremism.


Following the answer from my honourable friend, can the minister


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


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


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


main supplier is running a competition in which I believe five


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


evidence given last Tuesday by four eminent professors of law indicating


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


brought in to prevent the founding of service personnel for Belfast


agreement related matters? Will ministers join with the committee by


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Wellington Barracks. If the government really thinks it is


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


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


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


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


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


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


me to discuss ways this can be released for urgently needed


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


discussions he had with the US government about the announcement


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


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


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


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


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


part of the international coalition to ensure they have all the


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the earliest opportunity and does the kill list extend beyond


geographical areas where military action has been authorised by this


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


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


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


targeted. Even if the defence strategy was implemented in full


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


absolutely fit for purpose and has been based on delivering military


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


regarding the Convention of members notifying each other when they visit


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


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


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


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


Islington had visited that street and undertaken a walkabout. I


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