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 Sir Michael Fallon and his ministerial team.


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blood products in the NHS. There will be a round-up at this evening.

:00:00.:00:09.

The Minister for the Armed Forces. Thank you. At this, the first

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question to his new parliament, may I take the opportunity to remind the

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house of my interests, namely I am now in my 29th year of service in

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the Army reserves. The MoD regularly holds discussions with local

:00:27.:00:29.

authorities and the devolved administrations on reserves. This

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includes engagement with all stakeholders on sites that are

:00:33.:00:35.

earmarked for closure. Over the establishment of new research units.

:00:36.:00:40.

The use of size no longer required will free up land for new housing

:00:41.:00:43.

and raise money to reinvest in the Armed Forces. Thank you. My father

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like himself was a Territorial Army reservist. I know the importance of

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it. Would it not make more sense rather than jumping to a closure and

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then contacting devolved administrations to have a

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pre-consultation to make sure we are facilities are being reviewed that

:01:07.:01:13.

we have a proper strategy for public sister assets? Of course we try to

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engage the local authorities to the rest of our ability but when it

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comes to the Army reserve refine programme no final decisions have

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been made. It would therefore be premature to engage with local

:01:30.:01:33.

authorities to say which if any Army reserve centres are closing.

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However, that reserve piece is good news as well so I am delighted to be

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able to take this opportunity to announce the creation of two new

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infantry battalions. The 4th Battalion, Princess of Wales Royal

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Regiment and the eight rifles Battalion whose headquarters will be

:01:55.:02:00.

at Bishop Auckland. May I offer my honourable friend very warm

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congratulations on his promotion to be Minister of the Armed Forces? And

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as he is a distinguished and senior officer in the reserve, is he not

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perfectly placed to make decisions in respect of this question on

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reserve centre closures? I am very grateful for his war words. Indeed,

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as his former PPS I know only too well of his contribution during his

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tenure there, when it came to the comrades of approach. What I would

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say, it is rare as a minister to be appointed to a department you know

:02:40.:02:43.

something about, so on that basis I am dilated to be here but I think it

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is great to be in this position and I hope to use any experience I have.

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May I also congratulate the Minister on what he's talking about. In

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recent days I became aware that the promised of West Dunbartonshire had

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been informed that the Armed Forces veteran days would not take place

:03:14.:03:17.

due to no capacity from the Armed Forces to deliver it. As a member of

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Parliament for West Dunbartonshire, that gives me cause for concern. The

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Armed Forces veterans Day to local families and also those veterans

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including my own family are not given the appropriate thanks from

:03:33.:03:36.

their local community. Can the Minister advise me and perhaps other

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members whose own local communities have not been able to have Veterans'

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Day, that it will not happen again? I must say I think Armed Forces days

:03:46.:03:49.

have become quite a success so I am disappointed to hear what the

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honourable gentleman says. I myself visited Northern Ireland and I think

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Armed Forces Day centring on Liverpool this year was a particular

:04:01.:04:04.

success. But I am concerned by what he says. I would like to think that

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all of our units will do whatever they can to support Armed Forces

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days and I will look into what he has to say. Would the Minister agree

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with me that it is crucially important that when considering

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dismissing or abandoning reserve centres a major criteria in that

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decision is ensuring that our reserve centres are as close as

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possible to the reserve soldiers who actually will man them so they don't

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have to travel far? Of course, our reserves in recent years have become

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a success. We have increased some extra 5000 reserves were written

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recruited, one of the great challenges we face is to make sure

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the footprint is equal across the country. That is why this Army

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reserves refine piece of work is so important. One of the principal aims

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to ensure is that that footprint is even across the country. In Mikan

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tips truancy there is the home of the 211 battery. They are the

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reserves battery unmanned operators. I understand the Department are

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scrapping the black Hornet but using the Desert Hawk model. Will this

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have an impact on this successful and popular units. As I think I have

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mentioned, the reserves re-signed piece is an overwhelming success

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story. I'm sorry I am not in a position to give honourable members

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the final detail but I will go out of my way to ensure that all members

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are informed in advance of any changes to their local units. He

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talks about a footprint for the reserve force. It's very important

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because we have to live forswear the base is. But they are also very

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useful in being the outward face of the British Army weather is no other

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military presence. And they have a huge usefulness apart from that

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military one. I am quite confident that at the end of this reserves

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refine to process the footprint will still be substantial across the

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United Kingdom. We are not looking at major closures across the UK and

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I would hate to imply that is the impression. Today I have already

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announced the creation of two new reserve units. I think the story as

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we intend you to increase is a positive one. With your permission,

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I would like to answer the question with question six. The latest

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kingdom is supporting Nato's enhanced forward presence designed

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to defend our allies and deter our enemies. Personnel form our core of

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our battle in Estonia. A British reconnaissance Squadron in

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Parliament. Both are defensive but combat capable. I am sure he will

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have welcomed as I did the congressional vote that saw the

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renewal of the US commitment to article five and I was wondering if

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he could talk a little about Britain's commitment to article five

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and particularly units like the Estonian Armed Forces? It is good

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that both Congress and now the president have committed to Article

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five, the most important principle of Nato. The secretary and I agreed

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in Washington and to create our work together to modernise Nato and give

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it more focus on counterterrorism and hybrid warfare. One of the

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reasons as he has said, that our contribution to enhanced forward

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presence is based in Estonia is indeed our good mixed periods of

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working with the forces there in Helmand Afghanistan. Joint military

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exercises are very welcome. As our rotational deployment of troops in

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Poland. But when will the UK use its senior position within Nato to press

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that organisation for a permanent Nato base in eastern Poland? I can

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tell him that our defence relationship with Poland is close

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since the beginning of 2016I have met the Minister at least five times

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and we aim to sign a defence treaty with Poland later this year. Nato

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already has a small permanent base in Poland, based in Stettin, to

:09:09.:09:17.

which the UK does contribute personnel. I very much support what

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the Defence Secretary has said about the contribution we are making with

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respect to Nato in Estonia and Poland but can I ask after speaking

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to a couple of constituents at the weekend, the Government and all of

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us have a job of work to explain to the British public the importance of

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Nato and the continuing need for us to be vigilant and Eastern Europe? I

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agree with. We need to keep restating the case for Nato and it

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is sad sometimes to see that case being questioned. We need to restate

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the importance of Nato and it was good to hear the president reinforce

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that in his speech in Warsaw on Friday. I think all of us in the

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house have a responsibility to explain why our troops are being

:10:05.:10:09.

deployed to Poland and Estonia, our typhoons are based in Romania this

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summer and why we are committing ships to the standing maritime

:10:14.:10:19.

groups this year. One of the biggest threats facing all Nato member

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states is the growing sophistication and volume of cyber attacks. Can the

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secretary of state set out for collective action his he and his

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colleagues are taking to counter this threat? As I said, the

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secretary and I have agreed that Nato needs to prioritise its work on

:10:36.:10:39.

cyber and other forms of hybrid warfare just as important as its

:10:40.:10:46.

conventional deployments. We are now doing that, the work was agreed in

:10:47.:10:50.

principle at the Warsaw summit a year ago, and we continue to urge

:10:51.:10:54.

other members to do that. In addition, we have offered to put

:10:55.:10:59.

Britain's offensive cyber capabilities at the service of Nato

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if required. These deployments are certainly defensive as the secretary

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of state stated, but they will be represented as being offensive by

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the Russians. What measures is the Government taking to keep open a

:11:15.:11:18.

line of communication with the Russians to make it clear to them

:11:19.:11:23.

this would not be happening but for their own conduct in the Ukraine and

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elsewhere? As he knows, Nato is a defensive alliance and these

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deployments are defensive in nature. It is important in respect of Russia

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that we explain these deployments and we are transparent about the

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number of personnel and the units involved. And to that extent we have

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machinery already in place whereby our vice Chief of defence staff has

:11:56.:12:01.

regular discussions with his opposite number to explain these

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deployments and to ensure there is no Can I begin by putting on record,

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the Wellcome from the SNP from Scotland about the building of

:12:23.:12:31.

ships. Can you outline the assessment from the President of

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America about the CID security -- cyber security regarding this ships?

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There is a question later on the order paper but I'll take this for

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what this is. If the SNP had had their way regarding nuclear

:12:54.:12:56.

deterrence then we wouldn't have needed these ships at all. We have a

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cyber expertise in this country. So do other countries within the

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alliance. We need these in order to deal with any counter attacks will

:13:19.:13:27.

stop we ask much of our brave service personnel and we are aware

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that service life can cause stress how we are committed to providing

:13:32.:13:35.

the necessary mental and welfare health. Both during the time of

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service and during retirement. I thank you for you reply, but can you

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callous more about the veterans Gateway and how it will work

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alongside Heads Together charity which helps veterans with their

:13:54.:14:03.

mental health problems? The majority of veterans make a good transition

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into civilian life but others don't. There are many charities providing

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support and the veterans' Gateway is a poor told to avoid confusion about

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where to turn to. I would love to take credit for it, but it was down

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to my predecessor who is now the Armed Forces Minister. Berry get

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interoffice and arrangements. We owe a debt of gratitude to those

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charities who work so hard, but why would the Government just commit to

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the Royal British legions -- won't have the Government just commit.

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This is down to a data issue. There is a veterans board to make sure we

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are meeting the needs of our veterans. In Plymouth, we recently

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secured ?80,000 for a better and scarcer service. Beyond 2018, did

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drive up, so I want to know what we can do to sustain the model to help

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those who serve? Attributed a huge work my honourable friend has done

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and he is right to say that the funding has been useful for a number

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of key projects and we need to make sure these continue afterwards. I

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would highlight one which is Combat Stress. This has been paid for

:15:54.:16:05.

through funds. I have two wonderful voluntary groups will stop veterans

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UK and veterans In The Community, which do wonderful work. What

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guarantee with the Government gave to support these organisations going

:16:21.:16:26.

forward? These play an important part not just in transition but

:16:27.:16:29.

veterans who given so much their service life. I'm grateful that my

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honourable friend raises these questions. All our commitments or

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important, but the veterans' Gateway programme will make sure that small

:16:44.:16:48.

charities will get the publicity that they deserve. The role of the

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Armed Forces from all three services in the liberation of Moses or must

:16:56.:17:03.

we commended. What plans do we have for any further involvement in Iraq

:17:04.:17:07.

or if there are any crucial roles in training the Iraqi forces who are

:17:08.:17:16.

unimportant ally? I'm the Minister rather than the Secretary of State

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but I'm glad you have such confidence in me. It was a pleasure

:17:21.:17:27.

to join my honourable friend on the 35th anniversary of the Falklands

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conflict. I know it is something the Secretary of State is involved in.

:17:39.:17:47.

While we are still a member of the EU, we will maintain our

:17:48.:17:56.

relationship with various countries, but the Prime Minister has made it

:17:57.:17:59.

clear that once we leave we will deepen these relationships. We will

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continue to play our part in Europe is Matt security through bilateral

:18:05.:18:14.

relationships. Last week, giving evidence in the Lord's, there were

:18:15.:18:22.

concerns from various Lord's about our impact in the world after

:18:23.:18:30.

Brexit. Do you agree we need to seek a place in the common committee that

:18:31.:18:37.

the EU security, as was the view of law Hague? -- Lord William Hague? We

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have the largest defence budget in Europe, the largest navy and a range

:18:47.:18:52.

of assets and capabilities which other countries will want to

:18:53.:18:57.

continue working on, with us. We have got to that point in the

:18:58.:19:02.

negotiations, sorting out exactly what the relationship will be, but I

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expect to continue with the core operation we have with my fellow

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defence ministers. With my honourable friend agreed that it

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would be far better for our European friends to Vegas and then Nato

:19:17.:19:20.

membership and paid their commitment rather than trying to create some

:19:21.:19:28.

pound- EU defence force which is bogus? We all agreed. Not simply

:19:29.:19:34.

Britain, at the time of the Warsaw Summit, that the European Union and

:19:35.:19:40.

Nato needed to work together to avoid unnecessary duplication, where

:19:41.:19:45.

both can add value, but to avoid the need for Fancy, new headquarters.

:19:46.:19:58.

The European defence agency supports the improvement of defence

:19:59.:20:04.

capabilities and provides a Forum on development. Can the Secretary of

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State tell us whether we will beam remaining a member of this and if

:20:11.:20:13.

not, what will our relationship be with it post exit? The European

:20:14.:20:21.

defence agency is an important forum, but it's not the only one.

:20:22.:20:30.

Some are outside the treaty. There were various works done on the

:20:31.:20:35.

typhoon, and major equipment projects, but obviously, after

:20:36.:20:40.

Brexit, we expect to have some sort of relationship with them and that

:20:41.:20:43.

awaits us in the negotiation process. I am pleased to hear my

:20:44.:20:52.

honourable friend state that Nato is the cornerstone of our defence

:20:53.:20:56.

alliance. But with regards to contract is such as Tallis, in my

:20:57.:21:02.

constituency, can I have assurance that that relationship will

:21:03.:21:11.

continue? Yes. There are a number of important companies based both in

:21:12.:21:17.

Europe and the knighted kingdom, Tallis, Leonardo, air bus. We look

:21:18.:21:25.

to insure their employment here is fully taken into account. Question

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five. The MID national housing contractor is Carilion. The service

:21:38.:21:47.

levels have been met and sustained, the department will penalised for

:21:48.:21:53.

performance when necessary. Thank you. I thank the Secretary of State

:21:54.:22:01.

for his response. Can he tell me what estimate he has made on

:22:02.:22:08.

renegotiating the lease in 2021, and whether the cost will fall on

:22:09.:22:18.

service Amirli 's? I'm grateful she called me the Secretary of State...

:22:19.:22:27.

LAUGHTER It's important to make sure that

:22:28.:22:34.

accommodation is up to scratch. It's important to our service families. I

:22:35.:22:40.

do hope we will have an opportunity to review the contract in 2021, but

:22:41.:22:46.

I hope she understands that negotiations will take place and we

:22:47.:22:50.

will keep the House updated. Well my honourable friend assure the House

:22:51.:22:58.

that there will be single living accommodation for service personnel,

:22:59.:23:05.

going forward. There are no plans to remove this. There is no complex

:23:06.:23:13.

offering. There is a necessity as we have heard before, to rationalise

:23:14.:23:19.

the defence estate across the country, and we are all so returning

:23:20.:23:24.

officers and personnel from the Rhine, which will involve building

:23:25.:23:33.

projects for families. The Armed Forces bodies 46 report found that

:23:34.:23:41.

services from Carilion were falling well short of service personnel and

:23:42.:23:49.

their families. They are tired of Government platitudes, so can I ask,

:23:50.:23:53.

how bad do they have to get before they will be dealt with? I go to the

:23:54.:24:03.

dispatch box. He is right to raise this issue. I inherited this brief.

:24:04.:24:09.

There has been concern about the standards we have seen. The

:24:10.:24:12.

Secretary of State has taken a personal interest. We are taking

:24:13.:24:17.

opportunity to make sure that service is up to par. Ministers are

:24:18.:24:29.

in regular contact with the pay review body as part of the annual

:24:30.:24:36.

process. I gave oral evidence to the review body prior to the 2017 report

:24:37.:24:40.

and I expect to meet them again, prior to the 2018 report. Mr

:24:41.:24:48.

Speaker, given that every Minister, including the Defence Secretary

:24:49.:24:53.

hence tell I did against the lifting of the paper, doesn't disprove -- --

:24:54.:25:09.

doesn't this prove... We want to see the Armed Forces properly paid. Any

:25:10.:25:17.

pay settlement has to take into account the interest of the

:25:18.:25:22.

taxpayers and has to be fair too to get our deficit under control. We

:25:23.:25:28.

are advised by an independent pay review body, which, unlike the pay

:25:29.:25:35.

review bodies for other services, is compelled to look at accountability,

:25:36.:25:48.

recruitment and retention. When unemployment levels fall, with the

:25:49.:25:53.

strength of our economy, it gets more difficult to recruit and retain

:25:54.:25:58.

and personnel. Will these be key factors in this issue? We are

:25:59.:26:06.

competing with other sectors of the economy which have grown. The Armed

:26:07.:26:12.

Forces review body and its recommendation of 1% at a rise said

:26:13.:26:18.

in their report, we believe that a 1% pay rise will maintain pay

:26:19.:26:22.

comparability. Further to that last question it is

:26:23.:26:34.

shown that recruitment of the infantry fell by 18% in the last

:26:35.:26:38.

year alone does he not accept that not giving a fair pay raise is

:26:39.:26:41.

having a direct impact on recruitment? That is not the view of

:26:42.:26:47.

the Armed Forces pay review body as I have just indicated to the house.

:26:48.:26:51.

They believe their settlement recommended last year does maintain

:26:52.:26:55.

paid comp ability with the civilian sector. Some 8000 people joined the

:26:56.:27:00.

Armed Forces in the last 12 months. But when the pay review body comes

:27:01.:27:05.

to look at its recommendation for next year, they will of course look

:27:06.:27:09.

specifically at the evidence about recruitment and retention and they

:27:10.:27:13.

do that in a way that some of the other review bodies are not able to.

:27:14.:27:20.

After losing her majority at the general election, the Prime Minister

:27:21.:27:25.

has now signalled she is prepared to work across the house with other

:27:26.:27:28.

parties in areas of agreement. So in that spirit, I would like to make a

:27:29.:27:33.

constructive offer. The Government has just introduced an Armed Forces

:27:34.:27:37.

Bill in the other place. If they agreed to amend that Bill to include

:27:38.:27:41.

real terms pay rise for our personnel, they can count on Labour

:27:42.:27:45.

support. So will the Government agreed to work with us to give our

:27:46.:27:51.

Armed Forces pay award they deserve? We all want to see the Armed Forces

:27:52.:27:56.

proper Lee remunerated for the service they give us. But it is also

:27:57.:28:02.

incumbent on the Honourable lady to make it clear how any increase she

:28:03.:28:05.

is favouring would be properly paid for. That is something she has not

:28:06.:28:10.

done, her party has not done and they certainly did not in the last

:28:11.:28:15.

election. The pay review body system we have is beyond party politics in

:28:16.:28:20.

this house, it is an independent pay review body that looks at comp

:28:21.:28:23.

ability with the civilian sector, looks at the issue of retention and

:28:24.:28:27.

recruitment and makes its recommendation. Last year we

:28:28.:28:35.

accepted in full. On the contrary, we had our manifesto fully funded

:28:36.:28:39.

and they know that. They know how to raise taxes if they need them. The

:28:40.:28:46.

fact of the matter is that the Armed Forces pay review body is severely

:28:47.:28:52.

constrained by the overall cap of a 1% on public sector pay that the

:28:53.:28:56.

Government has imposed. So of the Government won't legislate for a pay

:28:57.:29:00.

rise, will the secretary of state at least allow the pay review body to

:29:01.:29:05.

carry out a mid year review and report on what our Armed Forces

:29:06.:29:08.

should be receiving if the cap were not in place? Firstly, I am

:29:09.:29:16.

staggered to hear that she thinks her manifesto was fully costed or

:29:17.:29:21.

funded. There were billions in that manifesto that were due to be

:29:22.:29:25.

borrowed and paid for by future generations. So far as we have

:29:26.:29:30.

implemented the recommendation in full by the review body thought this

:29:31.:29:36.

financial year. So far as next year is concerned, evidence is already

:29:37.:29:41.

being acquired by the pay review body and I will give my own evidence

:29:42.:29:44.

later in the year. And we will see what recommendation they come up

:29:45.:29:54.

with. The Royal Navy is growing with 400 more personnel, more ships and

:29:55.:29:59.

new submarines. It remains on track to achieve its mind levels were 2020

:30:00.:30:03.

and will have is sufficient manpower to continue to meet all its

:30:04.:30:08.

requirements. This includes ensuring the Queen Elizabeth aircraft

:30:09.:30:10.

carriers can always operate safely and effectively. Given concerns that

:30:11.:30:17.

we are hollowing out our Armed Forces manpower in favour of big

:30:18.:30:23.

ticket items, what does the Minister added to the Government doing to

:30:24.:30:26.

ensure we not only have the manpower to operate these big-ticket items

:30:27.:30:29.

but also the ships to protect them when at sea given global

:30:30.:30:36.

uncertainties abound and over 90% of trade is maritime border? He

:30:37.:30:42.

highlights the challenges we face in recruiting in our economy. I am

:30:43.:30:47.

pleased the Navy's efforts in addressing shortages in engineers

:30:48.:30:50.

are bidding to show dividends through the personal recovery

:30:51.:30:54.

programme. He will be aware of our investment in offshore patrol

:30:55.:30:59.

vessels, and a new type 20 sixes of which we will cut steel later this

:31:00.:31:07.

month. In March 2017 total Royal Navy numbers were 710 belie the low

:31:08.:31:12.

liability. Currently it is reported that only six platforms are fully

:31:13.:31:20.

operational. Last year we have net loss of 750 and manpower. How can we

:31:21.:31:23.

be assured we have the right retention policies to operate all of

:31:24.:31:27.

our platforms when they are so desperately needed? The Royal Navy

:31:28.:31:32.

is growing. I am pleased that the first time in a generation it will

:31:33.:31:38.

grow by 400 I said. Equally, I mentioned the personnel recovery

:31:39.:31:42.

programme. This has been an excellent programme which has ought

:31:43.:31:44.

to address the shortages in engineers through apprenticeships

:31:45.:31:48.

and affiliation with universities and technical colleges. The truth is

:31:49.:31:56.

the Royal Navy is has experienced catastrophic cuts and personnel over

:31:57.:32:03.

the past seven years. The Navy is asking 55 and 60 olds to rejoin on

:32:04.:32:08.

short-term contracts. Will the Government recognise the error of

:32:09.:32:11.

its ways and recruit on good wages the personnel we need? The Prime

:32:12.:32:17.

Minister has asked for ideas from the opposition. Will he pass my

:32:18.:32:23.

suggestion on? With the greatest respect, it seems to be a common

:32:24.:32:27.

theme when we come to this dispatch box, he is always terribly negative.

:32:28.:32:33.

I am determined to try to support our serving personnel, as I have

:32:34.:32:36.

tried to explain there is a lot of effort going in at the moment. This

:32:37.:32:42.

is the year of the Navy. With over ?3 billion invested in the Royal

:32:43.:32:47.

Navy, we are seeing two new carriers, the contract lawns for

:32:48.:32:54.

three type 26 destroyers, the future is bright for the Royal Navy and I

:32:55.:32:59.

wish he would stop talking it down. There is no doubting the

:33:00.:33:02.

comprehensiveness of the replies, but if we could make slightly more

:33:03.:33:06.

timely progress, that would be appreciated by backbenchers. The

:33:07.:33:15.

Government is committed to ensuring service personnel and veterans and

:33:16.:33:19.

their families are not disadvantaged. That special

:33:20.:33:22.

provision is made for those who have sacrificed the most. We will

:33:23.:33:27.

continue to use the Government fund to build including the recently

:33:28.:33:34.

launched veterans gateway that was mentioned earlier. Thank you. Some

:33:35.:33:41.

councils are much more proactive than others in supporting the Armed

:33:42.:33:44.

Forces covenant and marking Armed Forces Day. The Labour run council

:33:45.:33:55.

in Telford has more work to do ensuring action. What does the

:33:56.:33:59.

Minister suggest should be done to ring increase participation in

:34:00.:34:05.

future? Can I say I am upset to hear that Telford did not join all the

:34:06.:34:09.

local authorities on the 24th of June paying tribute to our Armed

:34:10.:34:15.

Forces. I was in Plymouth. The secretary of state was with the

:34:16.:34:20.

Prime Minister in Liverpool. I'm not sure whether the Leader of the

:34:21.:34:23.

Opposition was on Monday. We are putting a package of measures

:34:24.:34:26.

together to be given to all honourable members so they can talk

:34:27.:34:30.

to their local authorities next year Telford I hope will join others

:34:31.:34:33.

around the country in paying tribute to our Armed Forces. The Armed

:34:34.:34:40.

Forces covenant is a covenant between those who serve on the front

:34:41.:34:44.

line and the Government. But with those serving on the front line

:34:45.:34:47.

experiencing over the last six years in real terms pay cut of around 10%,

:34:48.:34:52.

wouldn't the Minister agree with me that that bond of trust is wearing a

:34:53.:34:58.

little thin? I think the Secretary of State has already answered the

:34:59.:35:02.

question on pay. But she is writing what she implies. We have to look

:35:03.:35:06.

after our service personnel. We put them in danger, in harms way, and we

:35:07.:35:11.

must look after them. One of the opportunities for the nation to show

:35:12.:35:13.

their appreciation is on Armed Forces Day. The Armed Forces

:35:14.:35:19.

covenant covers equal access to health care whilst on the

:35:20.:35:22.

Parliamentary scheme I met with May veterans and serving personnel who

:35:23.:35:25.

have issues around stigma and mental health. What more is being done for

:35:26.:35:31.

this? I'm pleased to say I will be launching the new mental health

:35:32.:35:34.

strategy at the end of this month. We are bringing together the five

:35:35.:35:42.

guys to make sure we can share best practice to how we best look after

:35:43.:35:46.

our Armed Forces when they become veterans. I have a proud patron of

:35:47.:35:53.

forward assist veterans charity. Back in March there were promised

:35:54.:35:58.

just under ?200,000 from the tampon tax fund to help their work with

:35:59.:36:02.

female veterans. That money has yet to materialise. Can he say why there

:36:03.:36:05.

is a delay and when it will be released? I hope she understands

:36:06.:36:12.

that whilst I am not armed with that information I will be delighted to

:36:13.:36:14.

meet with her and discuss the matter. Can I pay tribute to her for

:36:15.:36:18.

the work she is doing in supporting that important charity? Mr Speaker,

:36:19.:36:29.

the experience and morale of service personnel are central to defence.

:36:30.:36:33.

Both the Department and the new signal services placed the

:36:34.:36:36.

management of this as a high priority. As such we are putting in

:36:37.:36:40.

place a number of significant programmes namely the flexible

:36:41.:36:46.

engagement system, the future accommodation model, the new joiners

:36:47.:36:49.

offer, and the Armed Forces family strategy. Currently the forces

:36:50.:36:58.

families upon leaving the Army are given special assistance by local

:36:59.:37:02.

authorities but is he aware that upon divorce or separation and Army

:37:03.:37:06.

spouse is instantly no longer classed as Army family and receives

:37:07.:37:11.

no support? Would he consider amending the advice to local

:37:12.:37:15.

authorities? I am happy to look at it and I'm grateful she has taken

:37:16.:37:18.

the matter. It is important we get a package of measures right. So we can

:37:19.:37:26.

support the Armed Forces personnel and their fast trees. A key part of

:37:27.:37:30.

improving service life satisfaction is ensuring soldiers can indeed get

:37:31.:37:33.

their children into a good school that understands military life. Will

:37:34.:37:38.

the Minister join me in congratulating Montgomery schools

:37:39.:37:44.

who are celebrating serving the military community and Colchester

:37:45.:37:48.

further many years? I welcome to Ma'u to his place and say it is one

:37:49.:37:53.

school of almost 500 around the country that are located near our

:37:54.:37:57.

garrisons that provides support for Armed Forces personnel and their

:37:58.:38:02.

children, and it is important that continues. The service pupil premium

:38:03.:38:07.

is very important to make sure we look after those pupils particularly

:38:08.:38:11.

as they end up moving around because of their parental careers. Would

:38:12.:38:17.

service life satisfaction rates be improved by job security and on that

:38:18.:38:21.

basis can the minister assure the house today the size of the Army at

:38:22.:38:24.

the end of this parliament will be no smaller than it is now? That is

:38:25.:38:29.

absolutely the intention and he is right to look at it. It is one of

:38:30.:38:33.

the reasons why we have taken some of the initiatives I have mentioned.

:38:34.:38:38.

Including the various reviews that are taking place. Question 11. Our

:38:39.:38:49.

defence budget for Scotland's 718, is 37. We are committed to

:38:50.:38:54.

increasing its by at least half a percent above implication every

:38:55.:38:58.

year. In addition we continue to plan to meet the Nato guideline.

:38:59.:39:06.

This two commitments will ensure our Armed Forces can keep Britain safe.

:39:07.:39:10.

The United Kingdom leads the way with the biggest defence budget in

:39:11.:39:15.

Europe. But what more can be done to encourage other nations to play

:39:16.:39:19.

their part and increase their own spending to protect our collective

:39:20.:39:26.

security? Since the Wales Summit in 2014, dispense is spending by our

:39:27.:39:31.

allies has been increasing. Three more countries now meet the 2%. Over

:39:32.:39:35.

20 are now committed to meeting that 2% target at a particular date. We

:39:36.:39:40.

continue to press those allies that have not met it or plan to to do so.

:39:41.:39:48.

The secretary of state will no the recent statement from his department

:39:49.:39:53.

is that the trained strength of our forces is down below 140,000. Will

:39:54.:40:00.

it keep people satisfied to keep what they are proud of, taking

:40:01.:40:04.

trainees in, being one of the best trainers in the world, could we go

:40:05.:40:09.

back to that? We are one of the best trainers in the world. Our Armed

:40:10.:40:12.

Forces training is highly respected the world over. Other countries are

:40:13.:40:21.

constantly telling me they want more places, they want our Armed Forces

:40:22.:40:26.

to go out and train as we are doing in the Ukraine and Nigeria. With the

:40:27.:40:36.

mission I would like to group this question with question 16. Thanks to

:40:37.:40:41.

the vote a year ago the Dreadnought programme to replace the four

:40:42.:40:43.

Vanguard class nuclear armed submarines is on schedule.

:40:44.:40:50.

Construction on Dreadnought commenced on target. The handover

:40:51.:40:59.

from Vanguard to Dreadnought be seamless? Certainly if I am the 80%

:41:00.:41:09.

of the people who voted in the vote a year ago have anything to do with

:41:10.:41:14.

it, it will be. I want to just gently bring the house's attention

:41:15.:41:18.

to the fact that both the Shadow Defence Secretary and the Leader of

:41:19.:41:21.

the Opposition voted in the opposite lobby on that day. Perhaps the Right

:41:22.:41:29.

Honourable gentleman would be good enough to circulate his textbook on

:41:30.:41:31.

succinct questions to all colleagues? The Dreadnought gram is

:41:32.:41:42.

important to my constituents. It is building the pressurised water

:41:43.:41:44.

reactors that would go into the submarines. They have been investing

:41:45.:41:51.

heavily in new facilities, when will the Government make a decision?

:41:52.:41:54.

My honourable friend is right to highlight that it's not just in

:41:55.:42:01.

Barrow in Furness but up and down this country where companies and

:42:02.:42:06.

highly skilled workers are involved in this incredibly elaborate

:42:07.:42:12.

programme. I had the pleasure of visiting rains way and I know how

:42:13.:42:17.

many people in Derbyshire depend on this programme, and I can assure her

:42:18.:42:22.

that we are making substantial investment in the site. We were

:42:23.:42:28.

looking forward to discussing this very issue with the Minister

:42:29.:42:33.

chairing the election campaign, but maybe next time she can come and see

:42:34.:42:37.

us. Will she put the Government's full support behind raising

:42:38.:42:43.

education standards in the Barrow in Furness area, where there is below

:42:44.:42:51.

average English and maths results, which won't be good enough if we are

:42:52.:42:56.

going to remain on track for the dreadnought programme. He is very

:42:57.:43:04.

kind invite me to another visit to his constituency. He rightly reminds

:43:05.:43:09.

us of the important skills we need the these important jobs. I know my

:43:10.:43:14.

honourable friend will be happy to meet with me to discuss what we are

:43:15.:43:23.

doing regarding these skills. The investment this will bring to the

:43:24.:43:28.

Devonport dockyard is important, but what will happen with the

:43:29.:43:32.

acceleration of the submarine dismantling programme? Can I

:43:33.:43:42.

congratulate the honourable gentleman on his close interest as

:43:43.:43:45.

the sun other sub Mariner. We will keep him informed. I would

:43:46.:44:06.

like to ask this question. The Government has committed to spending

:44:07.:44:16.

2% of GDP on spending, half a percent ahead of inflation, every

:44:17.:44:24.

Parliament. Isn't it true that you only need to spend this much while

:44:25.:44:29.

we are a member of Nato, and isn't it the case that this party are

:44:30.:44:39.

committed to all three. One of only six members spending 6 billion

:44:40.:44:50.

between 2014-2016. More planes, more cutting edge equipment stop will he

:44:51.:45:02.

join with me in congratulating the 42 million Apache tower package, and

:45:03.:45:09.

will he agree that this will keep our Armed Forces say regarding this

:45:10.:45:18.

48 million budget? Yes. This will provide world-class Apache training.

:45:19.:45:27.

It's a vital part of the Army's force and is only possible thanks to

:45:28.:45:36.

rising defence budget. The UK was central in the, so does this mean

:45:37.:45:45.

the Government will be committed to remaining with European forces after

:45:46.:45:50.

we have left the European Union? That will become clearer after we

:45:51.:45:56.

leave, what we play and important part in those three defence

:45:57.:46:11.

committees. We are quiet to curb piracy and stabilise the Western

:46:12.:46:16.

Balkans. The millions spent on technical innovation around bases

:46:17.:46:24.

around the UK, it is crucial, particularly at my own base, Benson.

:46:25.:46:30.

What will they be doing to continue this? I do believe that and that is

:46:31.:46:37.

why we have set aside a fund to encourage innovation in defence and

:46:38.:46:41.

get a smaller, medium-sized businesses, in and around this

:46:42.:46:46.

constituency, to help us find this cutting-edge solutions. With and

:46:47.:46:56.

equipment plan worth 117 billion and a rising defence budget, there is an

:46:57.:47:05.

important focus on suppliers. This will be done in an open, competitive

:47:06.:47:12.

process. Can she ensure greater risk appetites, so that our Armed Forces

:47:13.:47:19.

have the greatest technology available to them? He is right to

:47:20.:47:24.

highlight this issue and it is something we look at when we look at

:47:25.:47:29.

the awards in the innovation fund to make sure that things with the

:47:30.:47:35.

highest risk with the biggest payoff are available. It is an honour to be

:47:36.:47:43.

reappointed Defence Secretary again. Our party has a proud record of

:47:44.:47:50.

supporting our Armed Forces to make sure they have the capabilities they

:47:51.:47:55.

need. Since the election, our new carrier, HMS Elizabeth has sailed,

:47:56.:48:02.

IS have been defeated in strikes in Syria and Iraq, and we've hired

:48:03.:48:09.

Sweden and Finland to join our joint expeditionary Force. Could be

:48:10.:48:19.

Secretary of State give us an update on the Empire favourability in

:48:20.:48:24.

training for the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier? It operates

:48:25.:48:34.

various aircrafts. They will be training on the first ten of these

:48:35.:48:38.

in the United States ahead of their arrival in the UK next year. It will

:48:39.:48:44.

also operate Navy Merlin helicopters, based in my honourable

:48:45.:48:51.

friend's constituency at Royal Naval air Station called Ras. We welcome

:48:52.:49:05.

the news that Meisel has been retaken. This has been challenging

:49:06.:49:09.

and complex and we paid tribute to those personnel who have played a

:49:10.:49:13.

part in it, including those of our own forces. We know the battle

:49:14.:49:23.

against Daesh and it's evil ideology has been complex. What further

:49:24.:49:27.

support will we be providing as Iraq's ground troops march further.

:49:28.:49:35.

It's good to agree with the Honourable Lady today and I join her

:49:36.:49:41.

in banking our service men who carried out 1400 strikes and have

:49:42.:49:48.

trained over 50,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga troops. The military

:49:49.:49:57.

campaign is not over with the fall of Mosul. They remain at the towns

:49:58.:50:06.

in various provinces and there are remnants of Daesh com blessing

:50:07.:50:15.

around certain parts of Syria. But now they are several million people

:50:16.:50:23.

no longer living under Daesh rule. Further to that update against

:50:24.:50:31.

Daesh, I know the Secretary of State will be as concerned as I am as as

:50:32.:50:37.

they lose ground, they attack in other places using other means. What

:50:38.:50:42.

will be done to counter these emerging threats? My honourable

:50:43.:50:51.

friend is right that we need to continue disrupting their online

:50:52.:50:55.

propaganda, targeting their senior leadership, undermine their

:50:56.:51:01.

finances. It needs to be combined and seen as part of a broader

:51:02.:51:06.

coalition campaign to undermine this evil organisation and make sure it

:51:07.:51:12.

never comes back stop the defence and Foreign Secretary seemed to have

:51:13.:51:18.

suggested that others may be targeted beyond the mandate from

:51:19.:51:24.

December. Will that confirm whether that is to happen and if he is to

:51:25.:51:31.

deviate it will only happen through a full debate in this House? I can

:51:32.:51:38.

confirm our target is Daesh, and our strikes are in and around Raqqa,

:51:39.:51:48.

other Daesh areas and it is not our aim to collaborate with either the

:51:49.:51:53.

regime or indeed its principal sponsor, Russia. Hundreds of

:51:54.:52:04.

migrants have been rescued and sent to Italy, but what will happen

:52:05.:52:14.

regarding taking them to Africa to avoid moneymaking by people

:52:15.:52:22.

traffickers? We have apprehended smugglers and we are the only

:52:23.:52:27.

country to provide one ship at all times. It is our policy to tackle

:52:28.:52:32.

migration at its source, including training coastguards, disrupting

:52:33.:52:36.

criminal gangs and managing migrations. Given the order for

:52:37.:52:51.

securing type 21 frigates, and given staffing shortages, just how does

:52:52.:52:56.

the Secretary of State envisaged how the Royal Navy will be able to deal

:52:57.:53:03.

with its duties in protecting us abroad? These frigates will be ready

:53:04.:53:12.

for the out of servlets - replacement dates for the 23 is, but

:53:13.:53:20.

specifically with regards to HMS Ocean, it was due to come out of

:53:21.:53:25.

service this year and there would be other amphibious vehicles available.

:53:26.:53:36.

Housing is a problem for Armed Forces, so what is being done about

:53:37.:53:45.

prioritising veterans on waiting lists? We touched on the veterans

:53:46.:53:50.

Gateway programme which wishes to provide a connection between the

:53:51.:53:53.

charities and those seeking. I'm courage honourable members to ask

:53:54.:54:00.

local authorities as to what can be done to provide support to our

:54:01.:54:10.

veterans. The Secretary of State will have seen the stories in the

:54:11.:54:19.

Sunday Times about the subsequent enquiries. I wish to know who took

:54:20.:54:24.

the decision to shut down Operation North More. When did it happen and

:54:25.:54:36.

was that Prime Minister informed? Our Armed Forces are held to high

:54:37.:54:48.

standards. North Moore has discontinued because there has been

:54:49.:54:54.

no case referred to the prosecuting authority investigations continue.

:54:55.:55:10.

There was a referral to a paper on European defence arrangements after

:55:11.:55:17.

Brexit. It was referred to in that evidence, up eight per written by

:55:18.:55:21.

the former chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee. As my friends in

:55:22.:55:26.

the paper and would he like to? I haven't seen that pain he yet but I

:55:27.:55:30.

am happy to procure a copy and read it. I made my position clear about

:55:31.:55:34.

Warren defence policy. We participate in those missions and

:55:35.:55:39.

operations at the moment and we continue to press for a partnership

:55:40.:55:47.

within the EU and can security cooperation. I have been informed

:55:48.:55:56.

about problems accessing mental health facilities by former service

:55:57.:56:11.

personnel. I would be delighted to learn more about what she learned,

:56:12.:56:17.

and I will say there are meetings that take place between the

:56:18.:56:20.

Secretary of State and the secretary of health.

:56:21.:56:26.

One of the major concerns of servicemen is around housing. Could

:56:27.:56:33.

he tell us what steps is taken to provide high quality certainly

:56:34.:56:40.

harassing? I will be delighted to provide him with more details. At

:56:41.:56:47.

least 603 civilians have been killed by coalition air strikes. The UK has

:56:48.:56:55.

taken responsibility for none of these. Will he commit to greater

:56:56.:57:04.

scrutiny of civilian casualties in Syria? We carry out an assessment

:57:05.:57:10.

after each of the RAF strikes, we in Westgate any allegation that

:57:11.:57:14.

civilians may have been caught up in these strikes, and so far we have

:57:15.:57:19.

not seen any evidence that civilians have been killed by an RAF strike

:57:20.:57:25.

but every single allegation is carefully investigated. I hope the

:57:26.:57:29.

point about a sentence has been captured by colleagues, preferably a

:57:30.:57:36.

short one. Will he joined me in welcoming the new Combined Cadet

:57:37.:57:44.

Force and agree to continue the roll out of Cadet forces in particular in

:57:45.:57:48.

schools that suffer from poor educational performance? Yes, and

:57:49.:57:55.

yes. Splendid. Given that the Royal British Legion has set out in the

:57:56.:58:00.

Armed Forces covenant annual report. Its concerns about the mental health

:58:01.:58:05.

needs of veterans not being met, does he agree we need a

:58:06.:58:08.

comprehensive approach to veterans mental health throughout their

:58:09.:58:15.

lives? We are providing a comprehensive approach. There is

:58:16.:58:20.

work that takes place between those who are serving to provide that

:58:21.:58:24.

umbrella of support and then as they make the transition and when they

:58:25.:58:27.

become veterans as well. We will be lurching that new strategy in two

:58:28.:58:30.

weeks' time. I look forward to making announcements of the house.

:58:31.:58:39.

Will he confirm that the RAF will retain their existing surveillance

:58:40.:58:45.

capabilities which and the existing fleet will be maintained and

:58:46.:58:50.

continued? I can confirm I had the pleasure of going to North Wales

:58:51.:58:54.

recently to extend the centre Nel contract to 2021. Will the Minister

:58:55.:59:02.

reverse the decision to shut down operations north more given the

:59:03.:59:07.

Sunday Times recent report of possible criminal behaviour in

:59:08.:59:14.

Afghanistan? It would be wrong for there to beat ministerial

:59:15.:59:19.

interference in that operation. I am confident that it is properly

:59:20.:59:26.

resourced through personnel and finances and I can only refer him to

:59:27.:59:34.

the answer I gave a few moments ago. Will the Government consider

:59:35.:59:37.

reinstating ring fenced funding for the BBC monitoring service given

:59:38.:59:43.

that its absence is leading to the closure of Caversham Park and a

:59:44.:59:47.

considerable reduction in its defensive potential? I am more than

:59:48.:59:58.

happy to look at the matter. Given that the UK claims to support

:59:59.:00:02.

multilateral nuclear disarmament, can secretary of state tell the

:00:03.:00:07.

house why the UK boycotted the UN nuclear ban treaty negotiations, how

:00:08.:00:15.

it will respond the ban treaty and can he understand the disappointment

:00:16.:00:19.

of so many constituents at the boycott? I think she is in pursuit

:00:20.:00:23.

of an essay, but time only allows for a short answer. We do not

:00:24.:00:27.

support this treaty. We do not think it should apply to the United

:00:28.:00:32.

Kingdom. And if it is voted on we will not accept it. What

:00:33.:00:40.

conversations has he had with British steel producers to maximise

:00:41.:00:45.

the use of British Steel in the new type 26 frigates and what percentage

:00:46.:00:48.

of the steel used to build them will be British? Again, I am glad he

:00:49.:00:56.

welcomes the news on the type 26 frigates. He will be aware that we

:00:57.:01:02.

publish the full pipeline in terms of steel requirements and we

:01:03.:01:06.

encourage our prime contractors to see where they can use British Steel

:01:07.:01:10.

and I am sure in due course he will be pleased to see progress.

:01:11.:01:19.

Statement, the Prime Minister. With permission, I would like to make a

:01:20.:01:24.

statement on the G20 in Hamburg. At this summit we showed how a global

:01:25.:01:28.

Britain can play a key role in shaping international responses to

:01:29.:01:31.

some of the biggest challenges of our time. On terrorism, trade,

:01:32.:01:36.

climate change, international develop and, migration, modern

:01:37.:01:39.

slavery and women's economic empowerment, we made leading

:01:40.:01:41.

contributions on

:01:42.:01:42.