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.


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


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


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


the Army reserves. The MoD regularly holds discussions with local


authorities and the devolved administrations on reserves. This


includes engagement with all stakeholders on sites that are


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


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


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


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


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


then contacting devolved administrations to have a


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


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


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


comes to the Army reserve refine programme no final decisions have


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


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


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


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


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


Regiment and the eight rifles Battalion whose headquarters will be


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


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


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


perfectly placed to make decisions in respect of this question on


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Armed Forces veterans Day to local families and also those veterans


including my own family are not given the appropriate thanks from


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


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


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


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


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


Armed Forces Day centring on Liverpool this year was a particular


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


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


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


with me that it is crucially important that when considering


dismissing or abandoning reserve centres a major criteria in that


decision is ensuring that our reserve centres are as close as


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


reserves battery unmanned operators. I understand the Department are


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


refine to process the footprint will still be substantial across the


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


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


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


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


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


kingdom is supporting Nato's enhanced forward presence designed


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


our battle in Estonia. A British reconnaissance Squadron in


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


have welcomed as I did the congressional vote that saw the


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


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


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


that both Congress and now the president have committed to Article


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


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


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


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


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


working with the forces there in Helmand Afghanistan. Joint military


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


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


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


tell him that our defence relationship with Poland is close


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


house have a responsibility to explain why our troops are being


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


summer and why we are committing ships to the standing maritime


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Britain's offensive cyber capabilities at the service of Nato


if required. These deployments are certainly defensive as the secretary


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


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


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


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


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


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


that we explain these deployments and we are transparent about the


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


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


regular discussions with his opposite number to explain these


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


the Wellcome from the SNP from Scotland about the building of


ships. Can you outline the assessment from the President of


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


callous more about the veterans Gateway and how it will work


alongside Heads Together charity which helps veterans with their


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


guarantee with the Government gave to support these organisations going


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


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


honourable friend raises these questions. All our commitments or


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


of assets and capabilities which other countries will want to


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


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


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


defence ministers. With my honourable friend agreed that it


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


membership and paid their commitment rather than trying to create some


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


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


Nato needed to work together to avoid unnecessary duplication, where


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


The European defence agency supports the improvement of defence


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


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


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


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


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


typhoon, and major equipment projects, but obviously, after


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


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


honourable friend state that Nato is the cornerstone of our defence


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


constituency, can I have assurance that that relationship will


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


LAUGHTER It's important to make sure that


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


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


I hope she understands that negotiations will take place and we


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


that there will be single living accommodation for service personnel,


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


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


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


officers and personnel from the Rhine, which will involve building


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


services from Carilion were falling well short of service personnel and


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Speaker, given that every Minister, including the Defence Secretary


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


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


pay settlement has to take into account the interest of the


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


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


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


recruitment and retention. When unemployment levels fall, with the


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


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


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


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


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


comparability. Further to that last question it is


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


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


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


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


They believe their settlement recommended last year does maintain


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


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


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


specifically at the evidence about recruitment and retention and they


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


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


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


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


constructive offer. The Government has just introduced an Armed Forces


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


recruitment and makes its recommendation. Last year we


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


implemented the recommendation in full by the review body thought this


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


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


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


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


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


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


requirements. This includes ensuring the Queen Elizabeth aircraft


carriers can always operate safely and effectively. Given concerns that


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


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


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


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


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


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


pleased the Navy's efforts in addressing shortages in engineers


are bidding to show dividends through the personal recovery


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


programme. This has been an excellent programme which has ought


to address the shortages in engineers through apprenticeships


and affiliation with universities and technical colleges. The truth is


the Royal Navy is has experienced catastrophic cuts and personnel over


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


timely progress, that would be appreciated by backbenchers. The


Government is committed to ensuring service personnel and veterans and


their families are not disadvantaged. That special


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


continue to use the Government fund to build including the recently


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


councils are much more proactive than others in supporting the Armed


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


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


Minister suggest should be done to ring increase participation in


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


their appreciation is on Armed Forces Day. The Armed Forces


covenant covers equal access to health care whilst on the


Parliamentary scheme I met with May veterans and serving personnel who


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


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


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


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


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


forward assist veterans charity. Back in March there were promised


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Both the Department and the new signal services placed the


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


place a number of significant programmes namely the flexible


engagement system, the future accommodation model, the new joiners


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


families upon leaving the Army are given special assistance by local


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


spouse is instantly no longer classed as Army family and receives


no support? Would he consider amending the advice to local


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


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


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


improving service life satisfaction is ensuring soldiers can indeed get


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


the Minister join me in congratulating Montgomery schools


who are celebrating serving the military community and Colchester


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


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


garrisons that provides support for Armed Forces personnel and their


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


increasing its by at least half a percent above implication every


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


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


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


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


their part and increase their own spending to protect our collective


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Vanguard class nuclear armed submarines is on schedule.


Construction on Dreadnought commenced on target. The handover


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


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


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


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


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


Honourable gentleman would be good enough to circulate his textbook on


succinct questions to all colleagues? The Dreadnought gram is


important to my constituents. It is building the pressurised water


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


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


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


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


highly skilled workers are involved in this incredibly elaborate


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


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


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


looking forward to discussing this very issue with the Minister


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Devonport dockyard is important, but what will happen with the


acceleration of the submarine dismantling programme? Can I


congratulate the honourable gentleman on his close interest as


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


the Government will be committed to remaining with European forces after


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


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


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


Balkans. The millions spent on technical innovation around bases


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


training for the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier? It operates


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


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


also operate Navy Merlin helicopters, based in my honourable


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


in various provinces and there are remnants of Daesh com blessing


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


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


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


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


will be done to counter these emerging threats? My honourable


friend is right that we need to continue disrupting their online


propaganda, targeting their senior leadership, undermine their


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


coalition campaign to undermine this evil organisation and make sure it


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


suggested that others may be targeted beyond the mandate from


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


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


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


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


regime or indeed its principal sponsor, Russia. Hundreds of


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


regarding taking them to Africa to avoid moneymaking by people


traffickers? We have apprehended smugglers and we are the only


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


migration at its source, including training coastguards, disrupting


criminal gangs and managing migrations. Given the order for


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


prioritising veterans on waiting lists? We touched on the veterans


Gateway programme which wishes to provide a connection between the


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


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


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


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


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


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


standards. North Moore has discontinued because there has been


no case referred to the prosecuting authority investigations continue.


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


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


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


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


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


Warren defence policy. We participate in those missions and


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


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


about problems accessing mental health facilities by former service


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


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


Secretary of State and the secretary of health.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


but every single allegation is carefully investigated. I hope the


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


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


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


schools that suffer from poor educational performance? Yes, and


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


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


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


comprehensive approach to veterans mental health throughout their


lives? We are providing a comprehensive approach. There is


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


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


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


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


Will he confirm that the RAF will retain their existing surveillance


capabilities which and the existing fleet will be maintained and


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


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


reverse the decision to shut down operations north more given the


Sunday Times recent report of possible criminal behaviour in


Afghanistan? It would be wrong for there to beat ministerial


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


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


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


reinstating ring fenced funding for the BBC monitoring service given


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


considerable reduction in its defensive potential? I am more than


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


multilateral nuclear disarmament, can secretary of state tell the


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


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


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


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


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


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


conversations has he had with British steel producers to maximise


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


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


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


publish the full pipeline in terms of steel requirements and we


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


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


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


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


Britain can play a key role in shaping international responses to


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


climate change, international develop and, migration, modern


slavery and women's economic empowerment, we made leading


contributions on