11/01/2018 House of Commons


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11/01/2018

Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including a select committee statement on the education committee's report on fostering.


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from.

I want to make sure he gets

the response he is exciting, I would

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urge more values. That would be an

appropriate value to -- forum to air

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his concern.

Most grateful to the

government wrap, we thank you for

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his sterling service, having to

respond to a vast litany of

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different enquiries, he has

performed with great dexterity, if I

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may say so. We now come to the

select committee statement. The

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chair of the education select

committee, the honourable general

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mare gentleman number for Harlow,

will speak on this subject for up to

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ten minutes, during which no

interventions may be taken. At the

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conclusion of his statement, I will

call, or rather the occupant of the

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chair will call members to put

questions on the subject of the

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statement and call Robert Halfon

want to respond to these in turn.

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Members can expect to be called only

once. Interventions should be

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questions, and they should be brief,

a front bench may take part in

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questions. I call the chair of the

education select committee, Robert

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Halfon.

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Social justice is one of the primary

executives of our committee. It is

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vital young people in foster care

are able to claim the educational

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ladder of opportunity as anyone

else. I want to begin by paying

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tribute to previous committee in the

2015 Parliament and particularly to

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its chair, the former member for

Stroud. I also want to thank the

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officers of the education committee

who have done a huge amount of work

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on this report. In our final session

we heard moving testimony from young

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people with experience of foster

care some had tears in their eyes.

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We heard from my honourable friend

the former Minister of State for

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children, I hugely respect which

created an important and unique

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evidence session. In our report we

wrote of the importance of valuing

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the three pillars of fostering.

Valuing young people. Valuing foster

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carers, valuing the care system

itself. The fact is the foster care

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system in England is under

significant pressure. This must be

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of national concern when it's often

the most vulnerable young people in

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our society who are being failed by

a care system which does not meet

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their needs. The number of looked

after children has risen by 7% since

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2013. I welcome that the government

has recognised this pressure and

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commissions its own review of

fostering. I understand reviews with

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ministers at the moment will be

considered alongside the

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recommendations of our education

committee. We begin with valuing

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young people. Foster children face a

lottery of care, of frequent

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placements and of the possibility of

being separated from her siblings.

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We heard from young people who spoke

about the number of placements they

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experienced. One young person in

foster care had been through eight

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placements in four years. Another

spoke about having moved six times

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in less than no time. Whilst another

had lived in 13, 13 different foster

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placements and two children homes in

five years this frequency of

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placement can only be damaging to

the children's well-being and

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development and future prospects.

The government must redouble every

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effort to ensure young people and

children don't face the prospect of

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such a dizzying number of

placements. What truly shocked every

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member of the committee was that

some foster children moved

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placements with short notice, little

or no information and often without

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any advocacy rights at all. It is

clear the guidelines intended to

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tackle these issues are being

applied inconsistently, at best, and

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injure mainly at worst. To give

another example we heard about young

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people in foster care are being

separated from their siblings, the

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figures suggest 70% of siblings are

not placed together when there is

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already one in carer. A 17-year-old

who had been moved away from her

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siblings told us, and I quote, "To

lose a bond with your own siblings

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is sad because you are by yourself

in the world". "You're Siblings are

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practically your best friend and now

you're losing them. You've lost your

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parents and then your siblings. It's

like your whole world has crashed

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down quite quickly." Young people

must be placed with siblings

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wherever possible. Wherever it is

appropriate. If not, there has to be

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greater effort by social workers and

others to facilitate regular and

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meaningful contact. I urge the new

Minister for children to ensure

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there is consistency and guarantees

of advocacy for all children, foster

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children, of staid say one in three

children do not receive information

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on their placement and that is

unacceptable. The second chapter of

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the report focuses on valuing foster

carers. Foster carers have a really

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important role in our society. They

provide remarkable care in difficult

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circumstances. But they are often

underappreciated, undermined and

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undervalued. The foster network is

to make a deficit of 7600 foster

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carers. They tend to be

disproportionately female and art

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ever ageing. Often they have to wade

through a trickle of bureaucracy.

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They are not adequately supported

either financially or professionally

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in the vital work they do. They are

status is unclear in terms of

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employment and not sadly with the

Inland Revenue who treats them as if

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they are employed. In our report we

press the government to ensure all

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foster carers are paid the national

minimum allowance. The fostering

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network found 12% of local authority

fostering services are paying below

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the national minimum allowance for

at least one age bracket. 47%

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allowances and five reduced rates

compared to 2016 17. Ministers need

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to make sure this allowance matches

live in living costs and allows

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carers to meet the needs of those

they care for. Carers must also

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benefit from legal protection

against increased malicious and

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unfounded allegations. The final

section of our report concerns value

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end here. We recommend the

Department for Education should

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establish a National college which

would work towards improving working

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conditions for carers, provided

resource for training and support

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and give them national voice. We do

not envisage the building but a

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virtual college.

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We believe a national recruitment

and awareness campaign could help

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improve capacity in the system. For

too many children and young people

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it's a sense of care which is done

to them, not with them. There has to

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be greater involvement from foster

children on the placements and

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consistency of practice to ensure

all young people can benefit from an

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appropriate and positive experience

of foster care. The government

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listens to representations from the

education select committee members

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on extending the extra 15 hours a

week childcare entitlement to

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children in foster care and I really

welcome the move is which have been

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made on that. In this New Year the

education committee hopes that

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ministers we truly value foster

children and value foster care.

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Thank you madam did the Speaker, I

would like to thank my right

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honourable friend for both making

this statement and making sure the

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fostering report was finished in

this Parliament, I was a member of

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the select committee and I am so

glad he shares my views on the

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importance of making sure children

in care have a voice. Will he joined

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me and agree with me that during the

course of that report one of the

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most powerful points which came

across to the committee was the

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importance of stability and

permanence in a child's life, I

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child who has expend so much

disruption, will you work with me to

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ensure both their voice and that

issue continue to be heard of the

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house?

First of all can I put on

record my huge thanks to my

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honourable friend for her support

and is getting this report to the

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house. Also particularly remarkable

knowledge of children in care and

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her passion for it. She is

absolutely right, stability is one

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of the most important things. It's

incredible to me that children are

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moved around from pillar to post

often without any knowledge of what

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is going to happen, any choice or

access to advocacy and that is

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something which has to be changed.

I

recommend the honourable member on

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the report and the whole of the

committee, I know from my next-door

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neighbours that the phenomenal love

and tenderness and care and

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dedication and commitment and in

particular often in the face of

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phenomenal bureaucratic obstacles. I

just wonder, he will probably know

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the statistics for the number of

girls in care who go on to be

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teenage mums is much higher than the

rest and in particular for those

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raped as well. What can we do to

make sure that those people who are

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the most vulnerable in our society

are properly protected?

I thank the

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honourable gentleman for the

question, my honourable friend talks

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about this, we need, the crucial

thing about this is early

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prevention, to avoid the problems,

my own view is we need a wider

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review into the whole issue of

vulnerable children and children in

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care. He touches on points which

will no doubt be discussed in the

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house and in committee.

I draw

attention to the members register. I

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welcome the support and hope it will

be taken seriously by the Department

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in tandem with the report which has

been submitted and I entirely

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recognise the problems which is

committee has flagged up in terms of

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the sorted of supply of foster

carers, too many foster children

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being moved or in too often and too

many well out of the area of placing

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authority and too many sibling

groups being broken up. On the

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question of foster carers what

examples of good practice of

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recruitment and retention by local

authorities was his committee able

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to see and what lessons can be

learned from some of the work done

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on adoption, encouraging them to

come forward, offering the rules

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adoption support services to make

the job of those services so much

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easier and make those placements

much more sustainable which is still

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not happening to extent for foster

children.

I thank the honourable

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gentleman for his question and

welcome his new look beard. He

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raises important

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issues there is good practice and we

need to learn from good practice,

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that is why I was suggesting that

the report suggests we have a

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national college for foster carers

which shares best practice whether

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it's for adoption as my honourable

friend mentioned or whether it is

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from good local authorities. I think

we need national improvement

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campaigns in terms of foster carers.

I think they need much more of an

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identity. I think there should be

much more the professionals that

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they are.

We now come to the

backbench emotion on defence, Vernon

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Coaker to move.

Thank you very much

Madam Deputy Speaker, can I start, I

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want to declare an interest in the

fact my son-in-law is an active

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member of Her Majesty 's reserves so

I just wanted to put that on the

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record and we are all as a family

very proud of him as no doubt many

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other honourable members will be

proud of individual members of their

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family. I also want to start by

thanking the backbench business

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committee for supporting this

application and all the members of

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the house who have supported me

achieving this debate including the

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chair of the Defence Select

Committee and my honourable friend

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of Stoke-on-Trent North, Barnsley

Central and the member for

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Strangford. Can I start by saying

this, nobody questions the desire of

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any member of this Parliament to

defend our country against any

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threat. By saying loudly and clearly

that no one either questions

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Parliament's pride or belief in the

professionalism and immense

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dedication to duty of our Armed

Forces. I think it's a really

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important point to savour those who

are watching this debate that there

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will be challenges to the government

and this Parliament quite rightly

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will challenge and hold the

government to account. All of us,

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whether on that side of the house or

this side of the house are united in

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terms of wanting to defend our

country and hold with immense pride

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the dedication and professionalism

of all of our Armed Forces.

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So, as I say, mud and Deputy

Speaker, nobody questions that, but

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I do think that Parliament sometimes

as to ask the question, in starting

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those debates, is that enough? We

are here today at a time when as a

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country we face real challenges in

terms of matching our rhetoric with

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the reality of the threat that we

face. The government will know, all

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of us in this house, and what has

prompted so many to ask for the

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debate, is the constant media

speculation and headlines flashes

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that we have seen about cuts to the

capabilities and various

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capabilities of our Armed Forces.

And it is vital, as I say, that our

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defence budget, whatever that is,

ensures the Armed Forces are

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properly equipped for the challenges

we will face in the future. And it

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is certainly abundantly clear that

our Armed Forces, and this is one of

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the themes, certainly what I say,

but of many other members of the

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house as well, that our Armed

Forces, Madame Deputy Speaker, need

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resources that are over and above

what is currently planned for,

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particularly in light of the

increasing threats we face as a

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country.

Can I first of all

congratulate him for securing this

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debate and for his commitment to

defence, is it also the case, what

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we have not seen from the government

is setting out a provision about how

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we as a country meet the threats

that we face.

That goes to the heart

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of all of the select committees, all

the various debates we read, the

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desire of all of those committees,

and this Parliament, and all of us

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that take an interest in defence,

for us to identify, and I will say a

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bit more about the point made,

honourable friend in a minute, for

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us to identify what are the

strategic threats we face as a

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country and then mould and adapt

Armed Forces and security and

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intelligence services to meet those

threats. Only yesterday, general Sir

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Nick Carter, head of the British

Army, said on the today programme,

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and I quote, threats have never been

greater in my 20 year career. And in

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evidence to the joint committee on

the national security strategy, Mark

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Sedwill, the national security

adviser, confirmed that in the last

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two years we have seen an

intensification of threats we face,

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and indeed, the former Defence

Secretary himself talked at another

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evidence session of an

intensification of the risks that

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our country faces. We can all named

those risks. We have seen the

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various adventures, the various

things that Russia has been involved

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with. We have seen China and North

Korea, we have seen the terrible

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terrorist incidents that have taken

place in our country. We have seen

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the identification of risks around

new technologies, around cyber,

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around artificial intelligence and

wherever that is going to take us,

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and the undermining of the rules

based international order. Now, all

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of those threats, Madame Deputy

Speaker, are not threats made up,

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they are very real assessments of

what our country faces, along with

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its allies and those that stand with

us. And this Parliament has a

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responsibility and a duty to debate

how we are going to meet those

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threats, and that is something that

I believe the public of this country

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would expect us to do.

Hear hear,

well said.

Whatever the rights or

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wrongs of this, this has all been

motivated by Brexit, which has

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caused us as a nation to reflect on

our place in the world and what it

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actually is and I believe, and I say

this quite strongly, two people in

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this Parliament, looking around,

many would agree, this Parliament

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should once again send a clear

message to our allies and to the

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rest of the world that as a senior

member of Nato, and as a permanent

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member of the United Nations

Security Council and the leader of

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the Commonwealth, that we will not

turn inwards, and we will not flinch

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from our historic role as a promoter

of democracy and a defender of human

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rights, as well as ensuring that our

own interests are fully protected.

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Can I thank my honourable friend for

giving way, and he mentioned the

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situation in Korea. Is it not the

case that the actions of the North

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Korean regime are a massive threat

to the international rules based

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order, doesn't that need to have

higher priority in the thinking of

0:20:490:20:53

not just our own government but also

other allies.

My honourable friend

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makes a very good point, and let me

say this, I think the broader point

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to make is of course, North Korea

and China are threatening some of

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the rules based international law,

particularly as my honourable friend

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says North Korea. And, we have two

meet that threat and part of that

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debate is how we do that and what we

do about it. I would say as well

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though, part of the reason for this

debate is this argument must be one

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again with the British public. The

British public have to understand,

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or, if you like, be persuaded, or

not, because they can say that they

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do not agree with us, but as a

parliament we have to make the case

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again for why it is important

sometimes for us to be concerned

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about actions that are taking place

thousands upon thousands of miles

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away, and why that impacts on our

own interests and security here at

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home. It cannot be enough anymore to

assert a problem, we have two once

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again make the case as to why these

matters, such as North Korea, are

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important. Madame Deputy Speaker, he

we are, two years after the

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strategic defence and Security

review of 2015, in the midst of

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another review, led by Mark Sedwill.

And I would like to say, other

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members have mentioned this, I know

the Defence Secretary is trying to

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pull away the defence part of the

capability and give it a longer time

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to reflect and I hope he is

successful in doing that but as it

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stands, we have a review, a review

which I believe is shrouded in

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uncertainty and which we are now

told is to be delayed. But let's

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look at one particular theme that

was said at that particular

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committee. -- thing. Which I think

is completely wrong, as to be

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changed by the government. Mr said

well said, and I quote, this

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exercise was commissioned by the

council as fiscally neutral. -- Mark

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Sedwill. Fiscally neutral?! How can

you come to such a conclusion,

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before all the strands of the review

are finished.

Here here.

Surely this

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is about matching resources to

threats, not the other way around.

0:23:200:23:25

So let this be the line in the sand,

that ensures that this principle is

0:23:250:23:30

at the heart of the decisions we

take as we now move forward. As I

0:23:300:23:35

say, Madame Deputy Speaker, we see

story after story appearing,

0:23:350:23:41

speculating as to which capability

may or may not be cut. Why does this

0:23:410:23:46

speculation abound? Why aren't their

statements to Parliament? Why is

0:23:460:23:51

there no explanation of what is

actually going on? To be fair to the

0:23:510:23:56

Minister, I know that he will be

concerned about some of this but it

0:23:560:23:59

is not good enough, I don't think,

for these potential or possible

0:23:590:24:03

capability cuts to be dismissed by

the government as mere speculation.

0:24:030:24:09

We do not comment on leaks... No

decisions have been made... I tell

0:24:090:24:13

you what I don't want, I'm sure

every single member of this house

0:24:130:24:18

does not want in three months' time

a statement to be made to the house

0:24:180:24:22

telling us what is going to be done.

Rather than this house having

0:24:220:24:27

debated it and discussed it and come

to a view itself as to where we

0:24:270:24:33

should go. As I say, Madame Deputy

Speaker, I don't believe this

0:24:330:24:37

Parliament does not want to wait for

a set of decisions to be presented

0:24:370:24:42

to us as a fait accompli. That is

not good enough. Our country

0:24:420:24:47

deserves better, the public and

Parliament need to be properly

0:24:470:24:50

informed. I am certain that

colleagues across this house

0:24:500:24:56

believes that it is for this

Parliament to debate the issues, to

0:24:560:25:01

inform the decisions, and to play

our full part in the choices we make

0:25:010:25:07

as to how to defend the country and

its freedoms. According to the

0:25:070:25:14

permanent private secretary, a

hearing of the Defence Select

0:25:140:25:16

Committee at the end of last year,

it appears, and it is a view our

0:25:160:25:21

sins, but I will ask the Minister to

inform us, the Secretary of State as

0:25:210:25:26

yet has given no explicit request

for additional funding from the

0:25:260:25:29

Chancellor. Then I specifically

asked the minister, if he could

0:25:290:25:33

confirm or tell us where the

discussions that have been reported

0:25:330:25:36

in the media have got to, as to what

the Defence Secretary is now saying

0:25:360:25:42

to the Chancellor and where it has

got to or not. And whether there is

0:25:420:25:47

to be any additional funding,

whether he has demanded additional

0:25:470:25:51

funding, and indeed, whether the

defence aspect of the capabilities

0:25:510:25:54

review as I mentioned earlier has

been delayed or not.

I thank the

0:25:540:26:00

right honourable member for giving

way, I think he will probably be

0:26:000:26:03

astonished to learn that the

national security adviser, Sir Mark

0:26:030:26:10

Sedwill, as he now is, wrote to me

on the 23rd of October, and said, "

0:26:100:26:20

because the main decisions on

defence were taken through the 2015

0:26:200:26:24

STS are, this review is not defence

focused. Defence capability is one

0:26:240:26:30

of several projects within the

review." We have a situation where

0:26:300:26:35

we are finding difficulty bringing

the national security adviser to the

0:26:350:26:39

defence committee because he says

that it is not defence focus. --

0:26:390:26:42

SDSR. And yet the first thing we

will know about the review is when

0:26:420:26:46

they tell us what major defence

capabilities are going to be cut.

I

0:26:460:26:51

could not agree more with the chair

of the Defence Select Committee, is

0:26:510:26:56

absolutely right, and right to point

out that what is going to happen,

0:26:560:27:01

Mark Sedwill says it is not defence

related but he then says to the

0:27:010:27:11

committee, if I remember correctly,

or certainly it has been reported as

0:27:110:27:14

being said in the media somewhere

that of course, there is a need for

0:27:140:27:20

us to increase spending on cyber

intelligence capabilities and

0:27:200:27:24

because it is fiscally neutral,

where will that come from, and that

0:27:240:27:27

is why you get speculation about

cuts in defence capabilities, to

0:27:270:27:33

which the right honourable gentleman

refers, because it is this clinical,

0:27:330:27:39

taking money from that, to pay for

that. The thrust of the argument I

0:27:390:27:44

am making, the whole thrust, is to

say, if that is a threat, and that

0:27:440:27:49

is a threat, and not rob that to pay

for that.

0:27:490:27:57

I agree entirely with what my

honourable friend has said there, it

0:27:580:28:01

is also the that many the

commitments made in STS are 2015 and

0:28:010:28:06

the amount of money needed to

deliver all of those does not match

0:28:060:28:11

up with what has been allocated to

defence in the budget statements

0:28:110:28:15

that receive. -- SDSR 2015. A lot of

commitments have been promised that

0:28:150:28:21

do not bear a relationship to the

amount of money currently allocated

0:28:210:28:24

to defence.

0:28:240:28:25

I agree. That is right, I will talk

about affordability in a little

0:28:300:28:36

while.

I'm grateful to you for

giving way, I congratulate him on

0:28:360:28:41

his debate and on his speech, every

single word of which would be agreed

0:28:410:28:46

upon by the house, and the motion

before the house is one upon which

0:28:460:28:50

we cannot possibly agree with one

exception, I think it is

0:28:500:28:53

exceptionally disappointing that

what the honourable gentleman called

0:28:530:28:56

for is offence expenditure to be

maintained at current levels,

0:28:560:29:02

actually, it should be increased

substantially. I think he has got

0:29:020:29:06

the wording of the motion wrong.

Thank you for his advice on that. If

0:29:060:29:11

the honourable member... I'm sure he

has read the whole thing, it does

0:29:110:29:18

say at least, at current levels. And

this is partly the problem I have,

0:29:180:29:24

trying to be conciliatory, and

having something that everybody

0:29:240:29:27

agrees with, I try to put something

together that everybody would agree

0:29:270:29:29

with, rather than perhaps I should

have been a bit stronger, so I take

0:29:290:29:35

the admonishment, but it does say at

least, which hopefully answers some

0:29:350:29:41

of the points. I will, and then I

will make some progress.

Thank you

0:29:410:29:45

for giving way. The issue of

maintaining a fiscally neutral

0:29:450:29:49

position on defence spending but

would he recognised that defence

0:29:490:29:54

spending in average has been 3.9%,

back then, it was 0.3%, every year

0:29:540:29:59

we see a huge erosion of the defence

budget every year, the purchasing

0:29:590:30:04

power, that is changing our

capacity.

The honourable member will

0:30:040:30:07

know from his own background, in the

defence industry, the importance of

0:30:070:30:12

the point he has just made. Not just

the headline inflation figure, it is

0:30:120:30:16

the real inflation rate, that people

are facing, needs to be addressed in

0:30:160:30:21

any spending decisions, so that is a

point well made. If I move on, just

0:30:210:30:29

for another few minutes, we find

ourselves in incredibly serious

0:30:290:30:32

situation, a defence minister is

reported to have threatened to

0:30:320:30:37

resign if army numbers were to be

reduced any further. Will the

0:30:370:30:41

government as part of this reduced

role out any further reductions in

0:30:410:30:45

troop numbers below the 82,000

figure. The army is already 4000

0:30:450:30:50

below that figure, recruitment and

retention in the Armed Forces as a

0:30:500:30:54

whole is at crisis point, the

current deficit against the number

0:30:540:30:58

of service personnel is at 5.6%. I

would say to the Minister, I know

0:30:580:31:04

the government have made some

noises, lifting the 1% public pay

0:31:040:31:07

cap for the Armed Forces and

insuring that something is done

0:31:070:31:11

about that as soon as possible. And

what about cuts to training that we

0:31:110:31:16

will read about as well, the

government has confirmed a number of

0:31:160:31:20

training exercises have already been

Council for 2018, largely due to

0:31:200:31:26

costs, including, according to a

Parliamentary question I saw an

0:31:260:31:29

answer, exercise black horse, jungle

training as well. Have we now

0:31:290:31:36

abandoned the foolish idea of

cutting the Marines by 1000, and

0:31:360:31:43

getting rid of HMS Albion and HMS

Bulwark, which would mean we do not

0:31:430:31:46

have the ability to mount beach

landings.

0:31:460:31:49

The Government says this is

speculation, but the minister has

0:31:540:31:57

the opportunity to rule these things

out and say they are speculation and

0:31:570:32:00

they are not going to happen, this

Government will not let them happen.

0:32:000:32:04

And of course, following on from my

honourable friend's point, all of

0:32:040:32:10

this takes place against the

backdrop of continuing financial

0:32:100:32:13

pressures on the MOD's 178 billion

equipment plan. The national audit

0:32:130:32:20

of this has said that the risks to

the affordability of the MOD

0:32:200:32:24

equipment plan are greater than at

any point since reporting began in

0:32:240:32:28

2012. Surely they are right. The

plan is heavily reliant on

0:32:280:32:36

efficiency plans. The MOD's

permanent secretary stated the need

0:32:360:32:43

to save 30 billion over a ten-year

period. The plan does have amazing

0:32:430:32:47

new equipment for our Armed Forces,

frigates, planes, the Ajax fighting

0:32:470:32:53

vehicle, and our defence companies

provide mass of employment

0:32:530:32:56

opportunities, including

apprenticeships, and many areas

0:32:560:33:00

depend on this military spending,

and businesses such

0:33:000:33:11

as Raytheon needs certainty in their

orders to maintain the skill base,

0:33:120:33:15

and the questions relate, crazed by

the select committee on efficiency

0:33:150:33:23

savings cannot just be dismissed.

The defence industrial strategy must

0:33:230:33:29

be something which makes a tangible

difference. Of course.

I thank the

0:33:290:33:35

member. I strongly agree with

everything that the right honourable

0:33:350:33:39

member has indicated. We must

support our great men and women in

0:33:390:33:42

the Armed Forces in every way that

we can, particularly to equip them

0:33:420:33:47

in a sufficient way. I know that the

honourable member would also agree

0:33:470:33:51

with me that supporting our armed

for so is after they leave, and

0:33:510:33:55

properly resourcing that support, is

critical. -- Armed Forces. One part

0:33:550:34:02

of the United Kingdom does not have

the full and -- full in the

0:34:020:34:09

meditation of the covenant, and that

is Northern Ireland, there should be

0:34:090:34:16

full increment Asian in Northern

Ireland as soon as possible. --

0:34:160:34:23

implementation.

It is crucially

important that all of our veterans,

0:34:230:34:29

wherever they are, are supported and

that arrangements are put in place

0:34:290:34:32

to do that. Exactly how that is done

in Northern Ireland will need to be

0:34:320:34:39

a matter for discussion, but let me

say that it is clear that

0:34:390:34:42

arrangements have to be put in place

and should be put in place to

0:34:420:34:45

support our veterans. Madam Deputy

Speaker, a couple more minutes, I

0:34:450:34:52

just was talking about the equipment

plan. Let me put before the house

0:34:520:34:56

something which highlights the

problems for them. Let me ask the

0:34:560:35:01

minister if he could be more

specific, for example, about the

0:35:010:35:05

cost of the F-35 fighter plane. This

is crucial, because we don't know

0:35:050:35:11

how much these are going to cost,

what is the impact going to be on

0:35:110:35:16

the other parts of the equipment

budget? And the Defence Select

0:35:160:35:21

Committee report, which I thought

was brilliant, if I might say to the

0:35:210:35:25

honourable gentleman, and the

questioning from others, including

0:35:250:35:28

his honourable friend and many

others, but the total estimate, and

0:35:280:35:32

what I find really frustrating is

the committee and the members of

0:35:320:35:36

this house use the Government's

figures and then told, well... Let

0:35:360:35:41

me say this, the total estimated

cost for 2026-7 is 9.1 billion, June

0:35:410:35:47

which time we will purchase 48

aircraft. -- during. The Government

0:35:470:35:52

cannot say how much the aircraft

will cost and disputes the 9.1

0:35:520:35:56

billion, says it includes this and

that, then get a different figure.

0:35:560:35:59

So what is the figure for them? If

you can't divide 9.1 billion by 48,

0:35:590:36:05

which would give 100

0:36:050:36:16

you can't divide 9.1 billion by 48,

which would give 100, what is the

0:36:160:36:19

figure that the Government was using

to make sure that this adds up? If

0:36:190:36:22

we don't say what is affordable, we

won't know what the impacts on other

0:36:220:36:27

capabilities will be. Let me

conclude, Madam Deputy Speaker, by

0:36:270:36:31

saying this. The stark choices

before us, I thought, have been

0:36:310:36:37

recently spoken of quite starkly by

three very English former Armed

0:36:370:36:43

Forces commanders who spoke of their

concerns and observations about the

0:36:430:36:49

national security capability review.

General Sir Richard Dalton next

0:36:490:36:56

barons said, and I quote, if you do

not put this money back into defence

0:36:560:37:00

and paid the bridge and four STS are

2015, you will be responsible, and

0:37:000:37:04

this is us, you will be responsible

for tipping the Armed Forces into

0:37:040:37:10

institutional failure. That will be

a failure of government, not of the

0:37:100:37:14

Armed Forces. The Air Vice-Marshal

said the Government needed to fund

0:37:140:37:20

the corrections of 2015, and Admiral

Georges ambulance said, I cannot add

0:37:200:37:28

value to the strategic comments of

my comments. Madam Deputy Speaker,

0:37:280:37:34

this debate gives this parliament

the opportunity to speak for the

0:37:340:37:37

country, to give our Armed Forces

there is also a need to meet the

0:37:370:37:43

threat that this country faces. Our

Armed Forces deserve it, our country

0:37:430:37:47

deserves it, and our allies are

looking for us to provide it as

0:37:470:37:50

well.

The question is as on the

order paper, octave Julian Lewis. --

0:37:500:38:00

Dr Julian Lewis.

Me I pay tribute to

the right honourable member, not for

0:38:000:38:04

the first time he has given great

service to the cause of defence, an

0:38:040:38:09

outstandingly good Shadow Defence

Secretary, and as long as there are

0:38:090:38:13

people like him in the ranks of the

Labour Party, the prospects for a

0:38:130:38:19

bipartisan approach to defence

remain excellent. And I must extend

0:38:190:38:23

that praise to all the members, all

11 members of the four parties

0:38:230:38:31

represented on the Defence Select

Committee, every one of whom is

0:38:310:38:34

strongly committed to the defence of

this country. And until recent

0:38:340:38:39

years, little attention has been

paid to a possible threat from post

0:38:390:38:45

comment as Russia, because for a

long time after 9/11,

0:38:450:38:50

counterinsurgency campaigns in third

world countries were thought to be

0:38:500:38:52

the principle role of the Armed

Forces. However, now we are spending

0:38:520:39:02

just £400 million on operations of

that type out of an annual defence

0:39:020:39:05

budget of about £36 billion. Now,

according to the 2015 SDSR, that

0:39:050:39:15

budget should fund, by 2020, 80 2000

soldiers, more than 30,000 sailors

0:39:150:39:21

and marines, and almost 32,000 RAF

personnel, plus another 35,000

0:39:210:39:28

reservists. To these must be added

some 41,000 civilians, many of whom,

0:39:280:39:34

like those who serve in the Royal

Fleet Auxiliary, our service

0:39:340:39:37

personnel in all but name. Finally,

there are special forces, as well as

0:39:370:39:43

new units that have been created to

deal with cyber security and counter

0:39:430:39:48

propaganda. Then there is all the

equipment currently comprising over

0:39:480:39:53

4000 army vehicles, including tanks

and artillery, about 75 Royal Navy

0:39:530:39:59

ships and submarines, including the

nuclear deterrent, and over a

0:39:590:40:03

thousand RAF fixed wing and rotary

aircraft. And as a portent of things

0:40:030:40:09

to come, the services also operate a

mixture of large and small

0:40:090:40:12

surveillance Trojans and ten

unmanned hunter killer aerial attack

0:40:120:40:19

vehicles. -- surveillance drones. So

all in all, a fairly full spectrum

0:40:190:40:25

of military capability, and in

absolute terms, as I am sure we

0:40:250:40:30

would all except, £36 billion a year

is a considerable sum. But set in

0:40:300:40:37

historical perspective, this level

of investment in defence falls far

0:40:370:40:40

below the efforts that we have

traditionally made when confronted

0:40:400:40:46

with danger internationally. Now,

the defence committee published its

0:40:460:40:52

own report on defence expenditure in

April 2016, entitled Shifting The

0:40:520:40:59

Goalposts, attracting attention for

highlighting the inclusion of costly

0:40:590:41:05

items like war pensions and MOD

civilian pensions at a time when

0:41:050:41:09

Prime Minister Cameron and

Chancellor Osborne were scrambling

0:41:090:41:16

to meet the 2% of GDP benchmark,

which, as we all know, has been set

0:41:160:41:22

by Nato as a minimum - not a target,

for all its members. Now, the

0:41:220:41:28

Government was entitled to include

such items towards its 2%

0:41:280:41:33

calculation is, but we'd never

chosen to do so previously, and so

0:41:330:41:36

it was clear that by resorting to a

form of creative accountancy, we

0:41:360:41:42

were no longer strictly come pairing

like with like in overall

0:41:420:41:47

expenditure terms. However, our

report was especially revealing in

0:41:470:41:52

its tables and graphs, well

researched by committee staff,

0:41:520:41:57

showing UK defence expenditure as a

percentage of GDP year by year from

0:41:570:42:04

the mid 1950s to the present day,

and then comparing this data with

0:42:040:42:09

the corresponding figures for

welfare for education and for

0:42:090:42:14

health. Now, what we found, Madam

Deputy Speaker, was this - in 1963,

0:42:140:42:22

we spent a similar sums, about 6% of

GDP, both on welfare and on defence.

0:42:220:42:28

Now we spend six times on welfare

what we spend on defence. In the mid

0:42:280:42:36

1980s, the last time we faced a

simultaneous threat from an

0:42:360:42:42

assertive Soviet Union, as it then

was, and a major terrorist threat in

0:42:420:42:48

Northern Ireland, we spend similar

sums, about 5% of GDP, on education,

0:42:480:42:54

on health, and on defence. Now we

spend two and a half times on

0:42:540:43:00

education and nearly four times on

health and what we spend on defence.

0:43:000:43:05

At the height of the East - West

confrontation, in every year from

0:43:050:43:11

1981 until 1987, we spend between

4.3% and 5.1% of GDP on defence.

0:43:110:43:20

Then, between the fall of the Berlin

Wall in 1989 and the failure of the

0:43:200:43:25

Moscow coup in 1991, the Cold War

came to an end. Consequently, and

0:43:250:43:31

predictably, a reduction in defence

expenditure followed. This was known

0:43:310:43:36

as the peace dividend. Yet, and this

is the key point, even after the

0:43:360:43:42

peace dividend had been taken,

indeed as late as the financial year

0:43:420:43:50

1995-6, we were still spending not

2% of GDP, the Nato minimum, but

0:43:500:43:58

fully 3% of GDP, and that was

without the accounting adjustments

0:43:580:44:02

used to scrape over 2% lines in the

past few years. So to sum up, from

0:44:020:44:11

1988, when the Cold War began to

evaporate, until 2014, when we

0:44:110:44:17

pulled back from Afghanistan,

defence spending almost halved as a

0:44:170:44:20

proportion of GDP. Now that we face

a newly assertive Russia and a

0:44:200:44:26

global terrorist threat, the

decision to set 3% of GDP as our

0:44:260:44:32

defence expenditure target can no

longer be delayed. Quite rightly,

0:44:320:44:40

the right panel member, oh, I will

give way.

I'm very grateful to the

0:44:400:44:44

honourable gentleman for giving way.

I have looked at the same statistic

0:44:440:44:48

that he is looking at, and he is

absolutely right about the creative

0:44:480:44:52

accounting, but even taking that

into account, it seems impossible to

0:44:520:44:55

reach the conclusion that we have

ever spent as little as we currently

0:44:550:44:59

are in comparison to GDP on defence.

That is absolutely right. I mean, it

0:44:590:45:05

is a measure of how far down with

our expectations were managed in the

0:45:050:45:11

course of the reductions in

percentage GDP spent on defence and

0:45:110:45:15

both the Blair and Cameron coalition

governments that it was regarded as

0:45:150:45:21

a cause for triumph and

congratulation when it was finally

0:45:210:45:25

confirmed that we wouldn't be

dropping below 2%. It had never been

0:45:250:45:29

a matter to be in any question at

all prior to that particular period.

0:45:290:45:39

I thank my right honourable friend

forgiving way. It is a pleasure to

0:45:390:45:43

serve under his stout chairmanship

of the defence select committee. I

0:45:430:45:48

mean stout in personality! Can I

just offer the thought that in some

0:45:480:45:55

ways the situation is even more

challenging than he has laid out,

0:45:550:46:00

because he has quite rightly given

the figures in terms of GDP. But in

0:46:000:46:06

recent years the MOD, as we heard

testimony from the permanent

0:46:060:46:12

undersecretary, was also signed a up

to a additional sets of efficiency

0:46:120:46:19

savings, now totalling some £30

billion overtime. And so not only

0:46:190:46:24

does it have a constricted budget,

but it is having to find those

0:46:240:46:27

efficiency savings as well, making

the situation even more challenging.

0:46:270:46:33

My right honourable friend speaks

with great experience as a former

0:46:330:46:37

Armed Forces Minister himself, and

made a considerable input to the

0:46:370:46:40

report we just did, which we called

gambling on efficiency, making that

0:46:400:46:45

very point. The right honourable

member for Gedling emphasised the

0:46:450:46:52

process that is going on at the

moment with the National security

0:46:520:46:56

capability review, and he focused on

this question of fiscal neutrality,

0:46:560:47:03

which the national Security adviser

says he has been told to observe.

0:47:030:47:09

When I challenged him with this on

the 18th of December, when he

0:47:090:47:15

appeared before the joint committee

on the national Security strategy,

0:47:150:47:19

he said, well it's not as if the

defence budget is not growing, its

0:47:190:47:24

fiscal neutrality within a growing

budget. He then did something else

0:47:240:47:28

as well, which is indicative of a

very worrying trend. He then lumped

0:47:280:47:34

together the 36 billion that we are

spending avowedly on defence, with

0:47:340:47:40

all the other money that we spend on

everything else that is related to

0:47:400:47:45

security, and started talking about

a £56 billion budget. And it is this

0:47:450:47:50

lumping together of money for

Security and Intelligence services,

0:47:500:48:00

money for counterterrorism, money

for even those relevant aspects of

0:48:000:48:01

policing with the defence budget,

which is a form of a slate of hand

0:48:010:48:09

which is causing me concern. This is

what I want to address in the second

0:48:090:48:13

half of my remarks. We have got a

real problem in this country. The

0:48:130:48:20

problem is that the tried and tested

system for a strategic

0:48:200:48:24

decision-making has broken down. In

my years as a student, my area of

0:48:240:48:31

study was the way in which Britain

planned towards the end of the

0:48:310:48:38

Second World War and in the early

years after the Second World War, as

0:48:380:48:42

to what form of strategy we would

have to have to deal with future

0:48:420:48:46

threats. And I was struck by the way

in which there was a huge argument

0:48:460:48:53

between 1944 and 1946, between

clever officials in the Foreign

0:48:530:48:59

Office who wanted to make the Anglo

Soviet alliance of 1942 into the

0:48:590:49:05

cornerstone of our post-war foreign

policy, and the chiefs of staff who

0:49:050:49:12

wanted to prepare their assessments

of what Britain might have to face

0:49:120:49:17

militarily on alternative

assumptions that that alliance might

0:49:170:49:21

well continue, in which case all

would be well, but that it might

0:49:210:49:24

well break down. There was a

tremendous stand-off until 1946,

0:49:240:49:30

when finally, the iron curtain

descended and it became clear that

0:49:300:49:34

the chiefs of staff, looking at it

in theoretical terms and saying, it

0:49:340:49:38

could work but it might not work,

Warren writes to be cautious, and

0:49:380:49:43

the Foreign Office, wanted to put

all their eggs in the one basket,

0:49:430:49:49

had been wrong. I was very struck

with the very systematic way in

0:49:490:49:56

which these strategic arguments were

hammered out. And at the centre of

0:49:560:50:00

it all was the chiefs of staff

committee, and the chiefs of staff

0:50:000:50:04

committee, as we all know, is made

up of the heads of the three

0:50:040:50:09

services. These shocking thing I

have to say to the House today is

0:50:090:50:14

that you can now become chief of

Staff of any of the three armed

0:50:140:50:18

services. You can become head of the

Royal Navy, you can become head of

0:50:180:50:23

the army, head of the Royal Air

Force, and yet have no direct input

0:50:230:50:30

into the strategic planning process.

This is all part of this lumping

0:50:300:50:36

together of military strategic

planning with national security

0:50:360:50:43

strategies that are vague and

amorphous, and above all, primarily,

0:50:430:50:48

in the hands of civil servants. Now

if the civil servants themselves

0:50:480:50:54

were steeped, as they used to be, in

the subject matter of their

0:50:540:50:59

departments, that would be less of a

problem than it is today. But some

0:50:590:51:06

years ago it was decided that the

senior levels of the civil service,

0:51:060:51:12

which are peopled by clever and able

individuals, that is not in dispute,

0:51:120:51:18

but that those senior civil servants

should be able to hop from one

0:51:180:51:23

department to another. So you might

be at a senior level in one

0:51:230:51:26

department at over the top job in

another department, including, for

0:51:260:51:30

example, the Ministry for defence.

What we have a combination were

0:51:300:51:34

formally specialist civil servants

have become generalists and the

0:51:340:51:39

professional military advisers have

become more like business managers

0:51:390:51:45

who are serving as chief executives

with an allocated budget to

0:51:450:51:50

administer to their services. And

all their thoughts about strategy,

0:51:500:51:54

they just get fed through one single

individual, the Chief of the Defence

0:51:540:52:00

Staff, who then has to represent all

their views on the national Security

0:52:000:52:03

Council. And it is this melding

together, this mishmash of the

0:52:030:52:10

military, the security and the

civilian, which is undermining the

0:52:100:52:16

way that we need to have, which is a

clear-headed and systematic approach

0:52:160:52:21

to the strategic challenges facing

this country.

0:52:210:52:28

I am most grateful to my honourable

friend, who is making an extremely

0:52:280:52:31

important point about the structure.

Willie agree that he has not

0:52:310:52:37

mentioned an important part of that,

ministers? He hasn't discussed

0:52:370:52:43

ministers' role. When Sir Mark

Sedwill appeared in front of the

0:52:430:52:48

joint committee the other day, he

let us know that this review is

0:52:480:52:51

currently being undertaken by his

department and was commissioned

0:52:510:52:58

during the general election

campaign, when presumably ministers

0:52:580:53:00

had their eyes on something else. I

don't know who commissioned this

0:53:000:53:06

strategy at that time.

My honourable

friend is right. He made a useful

0:53:060:53:12

contribution to the questioning of

Mark Sedwill. Ministers don't seem

0:53:120:53:17

to be having much of a role in this

either. The problem is, and what I

0:53:170:53:23

didn't say because I didn't want to

dwell too long on it, was the way

0:53:230:53:27

that stand-off between the chiefs of

staff and the Foreign Office in 1944

0:53:270:53:33

was finally resolved, was that went

all the way to Churchill, who

0:53:330:53:36

finally gave the chiefs of staff

permission to continue doing the

0:53:360:53:40

contingency planning for a possible

hostile Soviet Union that the --

0:53:400:53:44

that they wanted to do, that the

Foreign Office didn't want them to

0:53:440:53:48

do. The reality is that there has

been a loss of focus. There is no

0:53:480:53:54

proper machinery other than this

rather woolly concept of a National

0:53:540:54:00

Security Council, served by a

secretariat Marana effectively by

0:54:000:54:04

the Cabinet office. And in

conclusion, what I really want to

0:54:040:54:11

say is this. Constitutionally we

know what is right because

0:54:110:54:14

constitutionally, and this was

confirmed when we spoke to the

0:54:140:54:20

former Secretary of State for

Defence in the Defence Commitee, and

0:54:200:54:23

he was attended by a senior MoD

official, and we asked him, is it

0:54:230:54:29

still the case that the chiefs of

staff, the heads of the Armed

0:54:290:54:32

Forces, retain the right to go

directly to Number 10 if they think

0:54:320:54:38

the danger to the country is such

that they have to make direct

0:54:380:54:41

representations? The answer was, yes

it is. But what is the point of them

0:54:410:54:47

having that right if they are not

actually allowed to do the job of

0:54:470:54:50

planning the strategies and giving

what they used to do as a committee,

0:54:500:54:57

which was serving as military

advisers to the government. The

0:54:570:55:04

government ultimately, as my

honourable friend says, has always

0:55:040:55:07

got the right to reject or accept

such military advice as they get

0:55:070:55:11

from the Service Chiefs. But the

Service Chiefs ought to be in a

0:55:110:55:15

position to give that advice. To

conclude, I just say that it may

0:55:150:55:20

suit civil servants to sideline the

military professionals, to reduce

0:55:200:55:24

the uniformed... Of course.

Madam

Deputy Speaker, my right honourable

0:55:240:55:30

friend is coming to his conclusion

and I did want to, if I may, go back

0:55:300:55:34

to his initial point, if I can bear

your patients, Madam Deputy Speaker,

0:55:340:55:41

the important point raised by the

Right Honourable gentleman who

0:55:410:55:44

raised this debate... The comparison

between health, education and

0:55:440:55:47

defence going back a couple of

decades. We have had the demise of

0:55:470:55:52

the Cold War. But I would recommend

honourable members read the Prime

0:55:520:55:57

Minister's speech at the Guildhall

in November, which talks about what

0:55:570:56:00

is coming around. I put the question

that as we try to passionately make

0:56:000:56:06

the case for the necessary funding

for the Armed Forces, would it be

0:56:060:56:10

easier for that case to be made if

the passion and enthusiasm on the

0:56:100:56:13

doorstep as we go about general

elections and so forth, was

0:56:130:56:19

compatible with health and education

along with our Armed Forces? I think

0:56:190:56:23

there is a role for all of us to

make in confirming what the status

0:56:230:56:28

of the Armed Forces should be in the

future.

I'm grateful to the Minister

0:56:280:56:32

for making the point in that way. No

one could be doing more than he is

0:56:320:56:36

doing within the constraints of his

office to try and make the case. We

0:56:360:56:41

all know that. The reality of it is,

of course, that defence is always

0:56:410:56:46

difficult to get funded in peace

time because it is analogous to

0:56:460:56:50

paying the premiums on an insurance

policy. People are always reluctant

0:56:500:56:55

to pay the premiums. They are glad

they have paid them when the time

0:56:550:56:59

comes to calling on the policy

because something adverts has

0:56:590:57:02

occurred.

I will, but I keen to

conclude. I thank my right

0:57:020:57:08

honourable friend and chairman of

the committee forgiving way. But

0:57:080:57:11

surely this is the role of

ministers? It is the role of the

0:57:110:57:21

Prime Minister, the Chancellor and

the secretary of defence to provide

0:57:210:57:24

that leadership, setting out the

strategic division, and therefore

0:57:240:57:27

the reason for that expenditure.

That is where the leadership has to

0:57:270:57:31

come from.

I agree but I think it is

something more important than that,

0:57:310:57:38

which is to say they have to have a

proper strategic planning machine at

0:57:380:57:43

their service. Otherwise they are

just a bunch of individuals giving

0:57:430:57:46

their personal opinions. As I was

saying, it may suit civil servants

0:57:460:57:52

to sideline the military

professionals, to reduce the

0:57:520:57:55

uniformed contribution to strategic

planning to the input of one

0:57:550:57:59

individual, the chief of defence

staff. It may suit them as well to

0:57:590:58:03

sideline the Ministry of Defence and

reduce its contribution to a single

0:58:030:58:09

strand of the simple national

security strategy. But it does not

0:58:090:58:13

suit the national interest to have

inadequate specialist admitted --

0:58:130:58:17

military push back against

politicians, with poor strategic

0:58:170:58:21

grasp and a political be in their

bonnet. That is how disastrous on

0:58:210:58:27

goals like the Libya fiasco come to

be inflicted upon us despite the

0:58:270:58:30

warnings of the then chief of

defence staff against overthrowing

0:58:300:58:34

the Libyan regime. A single military

adviser, no matter how capable,

0:58:340:58:40

cannot have the same impact as the

combined contribution of a joint

0:58:400:58:46

committee of the heads of the Armed

Forces. So it's not enough just to

0:58:460:58:49

set ourselves a 3% target for

defence expenditure, as indeed we

0:58:490:58:54

must. It is vital also to recognise

that our tried and tested machinery

0:58:540:58:59

for making military strategy has

been largely dismantled. The chiefs

0:58:590:59:06

of staff must once again be more

than budget managers stuck on the

0:59:060:59:11

sidelines while politicians and

officials call the shots and as

0:59:110:59:16

often as not call the shots

incorrectly.

0:59:160:59:19

Order. I have given a lot of leeway

do the honourable member who

0:59:190:59:27

proposed the motion and to the

chairman of the select committee,

0:59:270:59:29

who both took a lot of

interventions. That is good for

0:59:290:59:34

rounded debate. But it will be

obvious to the house that a great

0:59:340:59:40

many people want to speak this

afternoon. We have plenty of time.

0:59:400:59:44

But that time will run out and it

would be fair to everyone if

0:59:440:59:48

individual members speak for much

more than ten minutes. As an

0:59:480:59:53

advisory amount, ten minutes would

be just about right and if people

0:59:530:59:58

speak for much more than that, I

will have to impose a time limit,

0:59:581:00:04

which stunts the debate. It is much

better if everybody behaves in an

1:00:041:00:07

honourable fashion.

Dan Jarvis. Thank you, Madam Deputy

1:00:071:00:12

Speaker. It is a privilege to be

called to speak in this debate and I

1:00:121:00:15

want to begin by congratulating my

honourable friend, the member for

1:00:151:00:19

Gedling, for securing it.

1:00:191:00:25

He has been a tireless champion of

our Armed Forces and has done us a

1:00:251:00:30

great service today

by allowing us

to debate this most important

1:00:301:00:33

matters, and I will seek to do so in

the most constructive way possible,

1:00:331:00:38

because I believe that we all have

an absolute responsibility to hold

1:00:381:00:41

the Government to account, and my

remarks and my concern is that I

1:00:411:00:45

will express today not about

securing any short-term political

1:00:451:00:51

advantage but ensuring that our

nation is properly defended. Madam

1:00:511:00:56

Deputy Speaker, throughout my time

in the Armed Forces and in this

1:00:561:00:59

place, I have come to believe that

every Government's policy on defence

1:00:591:01:06

should be underpinned by two

promises. The first is the promised

1:01:061:01:09

to maintain the freedom and

integrity of the UK, its overseas

1:01:091:01:17

territories, and its people, and it

is rooted in its recognition that

1:01:171:01:20

this is its primary duty. The second

is termed the Armed Forces Covenant

1:01:201:01:27

and is a promise from the Cup on

behalf of the nation that those who

1:01:271:01:32

serve or have served and their

families are treated fairly. For

1:01:321:01:37

reasons of time, I will not talk

about the military covenant today,

1:01:371:01:41

but like all honourable members

present, I am constantly inspired by

1:01:411:01:46

the incredible level of skill and

commitment that our service men and

1:01:461:01:52

women demonstrate. Often in the most

difficult of circumstances. It is

1:01:521:01:58

just that today it is the risk to

our defensive capability where my

1:01:581:02:02

emphasis will be. When thinking

about this speech, I looked at UK

1:02:021:02:08

defence doctrine to see what it says

about the role of defence. It says

1:02:081:02:14

that our national security

encompasses the safety of our state

1:02:141:02:17

and protecting it from external and

internal threats, and requires us to

1:02:171:02:24

endeavour to preserve the security

of UK nationals living overseas.

1:02:241:02:29

That same document goes on to talk

about the many varied potential

1:02:291:02:34

users of our Armed Forces, from

enhancing soft power influence, to

1:02:341:02:39

the evacuation of non-competence, to

the application of force, to

1:02:391:02:43

responding to natural disasters. But

my concern is that this is not a

1:02:431:02:48

publication that is read very much!

At least not by those who seem to be

1:02:481:02:54

making the decisions on the future

of our Armed Forces. I am thinking

1:02:541:02:58

particularly of some of those within

the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.

1:02:581:03:05

Instead, some of them seem to be

labouring under the misapprehension

1:03:051:03:10

that, in an age of information

conflict, the need for our Armed

1:03:101:03:15

Forces is decreasing. This could not

be further from the truth.

1:03:151:03:19

Mitigating threats to our security

is not a zero-sum game. Now, in

1:03:191:03:26

recent years and months, the eyes of

Westminster and Whitehall have

1:03:261:03:32

become increasingly focused on

Russia's activity in the UK's

1:03:321:03:35

information domain, our critical

national information and structure,

1:03:351:03:41

and the broader concepts of soft and

security. This is commendable, but

1:03:411:03:47

it is worth remembering that in 2015

the SDSR identified four primary

1:03:471:03:56

threats to UK national security.

One, the increasing threat posed by

1:03:561:04:03

terrorism, extremism and

instability. Two, the resurgence of

1:04:031:04:11

state based threats. Three, the

impact of technological change,

1:04:111:04:17

especially cyber threats. And four,

the erosion of a rules based

1:04:171:04:21

international order. Threats that

our Armed Forces are absolutely

1:04:211:04:25

critical in mitigating. Since then,

we have heard some members of the

1:04:251:04:31

Government repeatedly tell us that

the threats identified have

1:04:311:04:36

intensified, and that there is a

need to strengthen our defences, yet

1:04:361:04:39

the growth in threat has not been

matched by a growth in was also is.

1:04:391:04:45

Indeed, the previous Secretary of

State for Defence told the right

1:04:451:04:50

honourable gentleman's defence

committee that the mismatch between

1:04:501:04:52

intensifying threats and the

capabilities available was, in fact,

1:04:521:04:58

being exacerbated. As he put it, the

challenge of inflation, cost growth

1:04:581:05:03

in some of our more complex

programmes, and the ambitious

1:05:031:05:07

efficiency targets, yet the ongoing

capability review appears to have no

1:05:071:05:12

intention of addressing this

underfunding. Unlike the full SDSR

1:05:121:05:21

in 2015, it is not taking place at

the same time as a Spending Review,

1:05:211:05:26

and in the budget for the MOD has

been fixed until 2021. So my first

1:05:261:05:31

question to the Minister is, and I

know he thinks very carefully about

1:05:311:05:35

these things, what is the purpose of

a review that make include there is

1:05:351:05:40

a need for more capability if there

is no chance of the Government

1:05:401:05:45

providing it? Surely, such a move

will only highlights to our

1:05:451:05:50

adversaries both the paucity of our

ambition and the degradation of our

1:05:501:05:53

capabilities. Now, Madam Deputy

Speaker, the past few years have not

1:05:531:05:59

been good ones for defence. Too much

influence has been seeded to people

1:05:591:06:05

who do not understand or value our

Armed Forces. This has resulted in

1:06:051:06:11

the mismanagement of the defence

budget, the delayed delivery of

1:06:111:06:16

crucial equipment, and created holes

in both our strategic and

1:06:161:06:20

operational capabilities. Now, as

the national security capability

1:06:201:06:25

review runs the risk of channelling

funds away from our Armed Forces in

1:06:251:06:30

favour of a focus on cyber security,

the Government runs the risk of

1:06:301:06:34

making matters worse. Now, I could

speak at length about the capability

1:06:341:06:41

areas damaged and in danger, but

today I just want to touch on our

1:06:411:06:45

amphibious capability, joint force

2025, and the importance of training

1:06:451:06:52

to them both. First, our amphibious

capability. I have had the privilege

1:06:521:06:57

of serving with Royal Marines, and

although I would not necessarily

1:06:571:07:01

have said it to them whilst I was

serving alongside them, I know how

1:07:011:07:08

important they and their enabling

capabilities really are. It is for

1:07:081:07:10

this reason that I hope that the

continued rumours regarding their

1:07:101:07:18

future and specifically the selling

off of HMS Ocean, the cutting of HMS

1:07:181:07:25

Bulwark and HMS Albion, and the

reduction of the Royal Marines by up

1:07:251:07:29

to 1000 not true. A cyber capability

cannot do what they do, and what

1:07:291:07:34

they do remains absolutely crucial,

be it at the application of force,

1:07:341:07:41

crisis relief, or the evacuation of

noncombatants. Our amphibious

1:07:411:07:45

capability is a critical national

asset. In 2005, General Rupert Smith

1:07:451:07:53

said that the future of warfare was

war amongst the people. He was

1:07:531:07:59

right, and when you can consider

that, presently, over 40% of the

1:07:591:08:05

world's population lives within 100

kilometres off the coast, it is as

1:08:051:08:10

certain that we should even be

talking about cuts to our amphibious

1:08:101:08:13

capability or pretend that Queen

Elizabeth class or bay class ships

1:08:131:08:20

offer similar functionality.

Crossing the littoral foundry is

1:08:201:08:27

essential to our ability to deploy

troops in future scenarios but is

1:08:271:08:31

also hugely important to the UK's

humanitarian work around the world,

1:08:311:08:35

and cutting it would signal that we

are stepping back from both our

1:08:351:08:41

global responsibilities and our

responsibilities to UK nationals

1:08:411:08:44

overseas. The real world importance

of these capabilities was

1:08:441:08:47

demonstrated By the military

response to Hurricane Irma and

1:08:471:08:57

continues to be illustrated by the

fact that at the joint force

1:08:571:09:01

headquarters in northward, two of

the highest priorities for planning

1:09:011:09:04

are South Korea and Lebanon. As

such, we must acknowledge that any

1:09:041:09:10

decision to reduce this capability

would not come as part of a wider

1:09:101:09:15

strategy about the UK's role the

world, but as a misguided attempt to

1:09:151:09:20

get the budget under control. So I

would ask the Minister specifically

1:09:201:09:25

today whether he can confirm that

neither Albion nor Bulwark will be

1:09:251:09:31

scrapped as part of the NSCR, and

can he also confirmed there will be

1:09:311:09:38

no cuts to our regular manpower for

the Royal Marines? Madam Deputy

1:09:381:09:42

Speaker, I am similarly concerned

about the current threats to my own

1:09:421:09:50

old service, the Army. We have seen

numerous services affecting

1:09:501:09:54

manpower, equipment and the

structure of the Army, the most

1:09:541:09:58

recent, Joint Force 2025, was

initiated by SDSR 2015 and is

1:09:581:10:04

rightly focused not on equipment and

platforms but an output and effect.

1:10:041:10:11

The planned reforms were intended to

deliver an Armed Forces that was

1:10:111:10:14

more agile and reactive, and to

prepare the Army to deal with

1:10:141:10:20

growing threats from state

adversaries. This kind of

1:10:201:10:23

development and evolution is

critical to our national defence.

1:10:231:10:28

But modernisation like this is

predicated on harnessing emerging

1:10:281:10:35

technologies, and as such requires

investment in research and

1:10:351:10:40

development, capital expenditure on

new equipment, and the right number

1:10:401:10:45

of well trained personnel. All of

this was to be underpinned by

1:10:451:10:50

greater cohesion and cooperation

between the regulars and the

1:10:501:10:53

reserves, and paid for by efficiency

savings by the MOD. But now I fear

1:10:531:10:58

that neither is happening, and joint

force to the 25 is, as a result, and

1:10:581:11:04

the thread. -- Joint Force 2025. I

want to ask the Minister three

1:11:041:11:10

further questions. First, is the MOD

still on track to deliver Joint

1:11:101:11:15

Force 2025 as planned? Second, how

are the MOD ensuring that the

1:11:151:11:21

outcomes of the capability review,

in relation to defence, do not

1:11:211:11:26

similarly rest on a false

assumptions and overly optimistic

1:11:261:11:29

promises? And third, and I say this

slightly ingest, should regular

1:11:291:11:37

reserves, like my parliamentary

assistant and myself, and I suspect

1:11:371:11:41

perhaps the Minister as well, really

be included in the whole force

1:11:411:11:45

figures? I say that slightly ingest,

but it highlights an important point

1:11:451:11:50

- that our Armed Forces, and the

land environment in particular,

1:11:501:11:57

capability is not just a question of

numbers. Personnel have to be

1:11:571:12:01

correctly equipped, trained and

accustomed to operating in

1:12:011:12:05

deployable structures. Too often,

training is seen as an overhead

1:12:051:12:11

which can be cut back. This ignores

the importance of training in

1:12:111:12:16

ensuring that our armed for so is

already to respond and demonstrating

1:12:161:12:21

capability to allies and adversaries

alike. -- our Armed Forces. So as

1:12:211:12:27

threats diversify and intensify, our

training must adapt. Madam Deputy

1:12:271:12:33

Speaker, I will give way.

He has

spoken eloquently about training. Is

1:12:331:12:38

it not just as important to look at

accommodation for our Armed Forces?

1:12:381:12:42

We have seen the pay gap, but we

have seen rents rise, and we have

1:12:421:12:47

had forces being written to, saying

that civilians are going to be

1:12:471:12:51

allocated forces accommodation.

Capability and training programmes

1:12:511:12:57

aside, isn't it good that we have

accommodation at the right brace and

1:12:571:13:02

in good condition?

I think my

honourable friend makes a very

1:13:021:13:05

important point. For purposes of

time today, I have not got into

1:13:051:13:10

discussing the issue of the Armed

Forces Covenant, but that is

1:13:101:13:13

critical in terms of ensuring that

we have people who continue to wish

1:13:131:13:18

to serve our country and the Armed

Forces, and looking further into the

1:13:181:13:22

future, those young people who, in a

very competitive job market, will

1:13:221:13:27

enter into our Armed Forces, and

being able to demonstrate to them

1:13:271:13:31

that we, as a country, as a

government, as a House of Commons,

1:13:311:13:36

are absolutely committed to ensuring

that the circumstances under which

1:13:361:13:39

they serve, which includes ensuring

they have rewarding professional

1:13:391:13:43

opportunities, which is why training

is such an important element of that

1:13:431:13:50

debate, but also, as my honourable

friend has said, making sure that

1:13:501:13:52

they will be properly looked that

day, as will our families, and

1:13:521:13:55

accommodation is a critically

important part of that debate. Madam

1:13:551:13:58

Deputy Speaker, to conclude, I

believe that this debate has come at

1:13:581:14:04

a crucial time for our Armed Forces.

I think there is no doubt that the

1:14:041:14:09

UK is under a greater level of

threat than at any time since the

1:14:091:14:14

Cold War. Yet I fear that, as well

as there being serious questions

1:14:141:14:19

about how the 2% target is being

spent, our government runs the risk

1:14:191:14:24

of being seen to have no coherent

strategy for security and defence.

1:14:241:14:30

And furthermore, the national

security capability review risks

1:14:301:14:34

channelling more funds away from our

Armed Forces in favour of a focus on

1:14:341:14:39

cyber security. It seems to believe

that the emergence of information

1:14:391:14:47

threats have somehow resulted in the

decline of conventional threats.

1:14:471:14:50

They haven't, and they won't, and

the opening up of new France does

1:14:501:14:56

not mean the closing down of old

ones, and the unprecedented

1:14:561:15:01

hollowing out of our Armed Forces

must come to an end. -- new fronts.

1:15:011:15:09

Madam Deputy Speaker, rarely in a

debate in this chamber in the past

1:15:091:15:12

can any force bigger in a debate,

have been faced with such a major

1:15:121:15:17

challenge as following three such

well-informed, all-encompassing,

1:15:171:15:20

brilliant speeches as from the

honourable gentleman, the right

1:15:201:15:25

honourable gentleman, my right

honourable friend, people who know

1:15:251:15:31

what they are talking about, and it

is actually quite a challenge to

1:15:311:15:34

think of something new to say after

those outstanding speeches! I agree

1:15:341:15:38

with all of them, and I agree very

strongly with the motion.

1:15:381:15:46

It would be entirely

uncharacteristic nonetheless if I

1:15:461:15:49

was to simply say I agree and then

sit down. Can I very much welcome

1:15:491:15:54

the fact that this debate has been

called, but regret the fact it had

1:15:541:16:00

to be called under the rules of the

backbench business committee. Back

1:16:001:16:03

when I came here we had five

debates, including two

1:16:031:16:12

underspending. That was then changed

in 1998 to being five to debates,

1:16:121:16:21

five set piece, Major, full-scale

government debate in government

1:16:211:16:23

time, entitled under a range of

subjects from defence policy,

1:16:231:16:29

personnel and procurement. Those

debates were opened by the Secretary

1:16:291:16:34

of State. There were packed -- there

was a packed house. A lot of people

1:16:341:16:40

following it. That has now been

replaced. For several years there

1:16:401:16:47

were no debates on defence at all

under the backbench business

1:16:471:16:51

committee. It has been replaced by

to debate a year called by a

1:16:511:16:54

backbencher choosing to do so. I

think that is actually wrong. I

1:16:541:16:57

think the government should return

to the way we were and say that we

1:16:571:17:02

should expect to see at least five

debates on defence during the year

1:17:021:17:07

and they must find time in their

programme to do that. Allocating it

1:17:071:17:11

to compete with such important

matters as live animals and circuses

1:17:111:17:16

seems to me to be just wrong, and

seems to be downplaying defence to

1:17:161:17:21

the nation. It may be symptomatic

nonetheless. I think we are

1:17:211:17:28

downplaying defence and downplaying

the threat to us. There is a degree

1:17:281:17:34

of war weariness, of course, after

Iraq, Afghanistan and the rest of

1:17:341:17:37

it. People would like to see our

troops coming home and no more wars

1:17:371:17:42

anywhere in the world but that will

not happen. The world is an

1:17:421:17:45

extraordinarily dangerous place. I

think we are guilty of a degree of

1:17:451:17:49

complacency in this house over the

threats to the nation. That

1:17:491:17:55

complacency has spread around the

nation. Our voters don't realise

1:17:551:17:57

what a dangerous place we live in.

If you ask people should we spend

1:17:571:18:04

the money on defence or other

things, defence would come lowdown

1:18:041:18:13

in the priorities. That is why we

need to highlight the threat facing

1:18:131:18:16

us today. I won't repeat what other

speakers have said about those

1:18:161:18:22

threats. Of course, expansionist

Russia, North Korea, the South China

1:18:221:18:27

Sea, terrorism throughout the Middle

East. These things are worse than

1:18:271:18:30

they have been before. I personally

am extremely concerned about Russian

1:18:301:18:34

ambitions in the high North and the

Arctic and the north Atlantic. I'm

1:18:341:18:41

grateful to the honourable lady for

Bridgend, who has taken up the

1:18:411:18:45

cudgels of the Defence committee

looking into what the Russians are

1:18:451:18:47

planning to do. At the moment Nato

are to some degree ignoring it. It

1:18:471:18:53

is right that we should remind

people that Russians have spent

1:18:531:18:55

billions of on building a new

military stations along the Arctic

1:18:551:19:02

coast. They have substantially

increased submarine activity in the

1:19:021:19:05

North Atlantic. They are threatening

our lines of supply to the United

1:19:051:19:09

States. All of this is happening

under our noses and we're not doing

1:19:091:19:12

anything about it. It is right that

we should remind the nation and

1:19:121:19:16

remind our colleagues that these

very real threat happening on our

1:19:161:19:19

doorsteps. I think the reason party

for that failure to address these

1:19:191:19:24

real threat comes from what might

sound like a rather technical

1:19:241:19:30

machinery of government matter,

which my right honourable friend for

1:19:301:19:33

New Forest East touched on earlier.

In 1998 the last time we had a

1:19:331:19:41

proper defence review, I pay tribute

to the then defence Minister. I

1:19:411:19:45

think there is one of them sitting

in the back row opposite. It was a

1:19:451:19:49

first-class defence review. It was

foreign policy led. Here is what we

1:19:491:19:57

as a Ministry of Defence must do to

carry out, to protect the country

1:19:571:20:05

from threats. The whole process has

become more modelled and obscured

1:20:051:20:09

and complicated. Nobody now quite

understands who it is that decides

1:20:091:20:14

what the threats are to this nation.

Nobody quite knows who decides what

1:20:141:20:19

we must do about those threats. And

nobody knows where we are going to

1:20:191:20:23

get the money to do that. It used to

be for example that the SDR would

1:20:231:20:28

happen at the same time as the

national Spending Review. That seems

1:20:281:20:31

extremely important. What is the

important if having -- of having a

1:20:311:20:38

defence review if you know that at

the end of the matter what you

1:20:381:20:40

conclude, there is no money to

change it? If we reach the

1:20:401:20:47

conclusion we had a vast Russian or

cyber threat against us and most

1:20:471:20:52

significantly increase our army Air

Force, the Treasury would say, I'm

1:20:521:20:55

glad you had that review, very

interested to read it, you make some

1:20:551:20:59

important points and we will review

the budget two years from now,

1:20:591:21:02

therefore no matter what you said in

your review, we can do nothing about

1:21:021:21:05

it. It seems to me to be extremely

odd to be mixing this defence review

1:21:051:21:10

with the security review, which

leads to some Mark Sedwill, a

1:21:101:21:15

distinguished fellow, saying we need

to spend more money on cyber. He is

1:21:151:21:21

right. But every single penny on

cyber that we spend comes away from

1:21:211:21:26

other budgets. And if we double our

cyber budget, which may be a good

1:21:261:21:30

thing to do, that will mean that

things like the cuts might have to

1:21:301:21:38

come about in order to pay for a

cyber. If it is any comfort to the

1:21:381:21:43

honourable gentleman, if there were

to be any of those cuts, if Ball

1:21:431:21:48

were caught to go, if the word to be

a thousand people cuts in the Royal

1:21:481:21:53

Marines, he can be certain that I

and I think many people on our side

1:21:531:21:56

of the house would not support a

government that proposed to do that.

1:21:561:22:00

Let me make that very plain. We

would not go along with that. Having

1:22:001:22:06

many are my friends in the Ministry

of Defence probably agree. -- I

1:22:061:22:13

think many of my friends in the

Ministry of Defence would probably

1:22:131:22:15

agree. When we identify the risk,

... Those conclusions then go to the

1:22:151:22:34

Ministry of defence. The Ministry of

Defence should be the people who

1:22:341:22:36

say, those are the threats to the

nation and here's what we are going

1:22:361:22:39

to do about it. Subsequent to that

the Treasury should say, fine, here

1:22:391:22:43

is how we will find money. To have a

national security review mixed in

1:22:431:22:51

with a national Spending Review at

the time that is not contingent with

1:22:511:22:54

the national Spending Review, seems

to be absolutely pointless and

1:22:541:23:00

substantially misleading. We are

misleading ourselves that somehow we

1:23:001:23:03

are looking at these things

properly. I would like to see the

1:23:031:23:06

defence part of the review separated

out. It should be happening in the

1:23:061:23:10

autumn of this year, the same time

as the budget. If we need more money

1:23:101:23:14

to do at the Foreign Office says we

should be doing, that is the time

1:23:141:23:18

that we ought to be doing that.

Madine Deputy Speaker, I think that

1:23:181:23:23

is all I really want to add to what

the other people have said. I think

1:23:231:23:26

we face incredibly dangerous times,

incredibly worrying times. This

1:23:261:23:32

nation is under threat. There are

real threats to our people's

1:23:321:23:36

security and safety. If we don't

address it strategically and in a

1:23:361:23:39

way that I have described, bringing

in the ability to spend more money

1:23:391:23:44

on defence, if we don't find some

way of increasing our defence

1:23:441:23:47

spending towards the 3% that many of

us believe it should be, I fear that

1:23:471:23:52

we're not doing our duty. Are not

doing what are people sent us here

1:23:521:23:57

to do. We're not putting in place

the correct way of defending our

1:23:571:24:00

nation.

When it comes to defence we have to

1:24:001:24:08

accept that without the personnel,

with the right expertise and in

1:24:081:24:15

enough numbers, the military can't

function. All the most sophisticated

1:24:151:24:25

technology imaginable is useless if

we don't have the skilled

1:24:251:24:27

individuals to operate it. The

planes can fly, the ships can sail

1:24:271:24:33

and the vehicles won't move. --

these planes can't fly, the ships

1:24:331:24:38

can't sale. It is the people that we

keep cutting. Looking at the Army

1:24:381:24:48

and strategic defence Security

review in 2010, there was a

1:24:481:24:54

restructuring of the Army. The plan

was then refined in 2015. In essence

1:24:541:25:08

it proposed to reduce the number of

regular army, full-time personnel,

1:25:081:25:13

from 100 and, and increase the

rebranded reserve forces to 15,000

1:25:131:25:23

-- from 15,000 to 35,000 to make up

the shortfall. On paper that looks

1:25:231:25:27

great. In April 2017, the regular

army numbered 83,000 560. The Army

1:25:271:25:36

Reserve more than 20 9000. But dig

deeper. Reserve soldiers work hard

1:25:361:25:44

as reservists. But they also have

full-time jobs. They are required to

1:25:441:25:52

complete a minimum number of

commitments of days and training to

1:25:521:25:57

be fully up-to-date, to be able to

deploy with the regular army. The

1:25:571:26:02

completion of this training is not

mandatory. But those who don't

1:26:021:26:07

completed are not considered

qualified. -- qualified to fulfil

1:26:071:26:13

their function during the training

year. Those soldiers who complete

1:26:131:26:18

the training are awarded a tax free

bounty. This bounty, or bonus, shows

1:26:181:26:25

how many reservists each year are

ready and able to deploy quickly to

1:26:251:26:28

support the regular army. Over the

last few years the number of Army

1:26:281:26:35

Reserve soldiers has increased

dramatically, from 21,000 in April

1:26:351:26:42

2015, to 29,000 in April 20 17.

These figures are from the Ministry

1:26:421:26:49

of Defence. So we've got an increase

of 40 2000. -- sorry, 42%. You would

1:26:491:27:04

expect a proportional increase in

those achieving the annual bounty.

1:27:041:27:09

As more and more reserve soldiers

achieve their annual training

1:27:091:27:13

targets. But in April 2015, 14 270

achieved their bounty, 67.85%. Where

1:27:131:27:25

on April 2017, 14 930 got the

bounty, which was just short of 50%.

1:27:251:27:34

That represents a 17.98% fall in the

proportion of Army reserves

1:27:341:27:42

achieving their annual training

target. The bounty is broken down

1:27:421:27:48

into five levels. It shows... The

next level is paid until they get to

1:27:481:27:55

level five. The bounty is awarded in

2017 were 1980 per year one. 14704

1:27:551:28:06

year too. Years three and four three

and 30 four stop and year five, ten

1:28:061:28:15

160. Not what you would expect given

the number of increased recruits.

1:28:151:28:24

What the numbers imply is that the

number of reserve personnel able to

1:28:241:28:27

complete the training required of

them to be considered to be fully

1:28:271:28:35

up-to-date has been pretty stable,

but not growing. Despite the 42%

1:28:351:28:41

growth of the number of reserve

soldiers able to fulfil the minimum

1:28:411:28:48

commitment to set up with the

government is still at the same

1:28:481:28:50

level. In effect, the growth in the

Army Reserve is a paper growth, it

1:28:501:28:55

is not a real growth. The

expectation the government has is

1:28:551:29:00

that people who can marry up a

full-time job but retaining the

1:29:001:29:09

capability to operate at the same

level as a full time member of our

1:29:091:29:12

Armed Forces. This is an assumption

made as a result of a cost saving

1:29:121:29:20

decision to cut the regular army and

it is not simply realistic. So we

1:29:201:29:25

now have a regular army of around

78,000. And an effective reserve of

1:29:251:29:32

roughly 15,000. Both barely able to

fulfil their required duties,

1:29:321:29:38

especially when in the past there

were more than 100,000. There is a

1:29:381:29:44

further problem with the government

approach. We're relying on experts

1:29:441:29:48

to operate a sensible... These are

not skills that can be replaced

1:29:481:29:56

overnight. The government's solution

was to cut the experts from the

1:29:561:30:01

regular army and attempts to

re-recruit them as reservists with a

1:30:011:30:06

£10,000 incentive scheme. As of the

1st of October, 2017, there were

1:30:061:30:15

4000 31150 six regular reserve

soldiers who had been recruited

1:30:151:30:17

using the bonus incentive scheme.

The £10,000 bonus again is broken

1:30:171:30:26

into four instalments, paid out over

four years, provided the soldiers

1:30:261:30:32

completed the number of days,

training and tests. 4000 trained and

1:30:321:30:39

50 is a good number considering it

equates to almost a quarter of those

1:30:391:30:43

cut from the regular army. However,

of those entering the scheme, 3320

1:30:431:30:51

made it to key milestone one. Two

370 to key milestone too. Only one

1:30:511:31:02

in 180 made it to three. And just

480 keystone for.

1:31:021:31:09

A dropout rate of 88.97%.

So despite

the offer of the £10,000 bonus, the

1:31:091:31:21

ex regular soldiers are also not

able to meet the requirements of a

1:31:211:31:25

full-time job and being a reservists

who is fully trained and capable of

1:31:251:31:30

deployment. We are risking having an

and demand reserve force lacking the

1:31:301:31:36

skills and knowledge that comes from

experience disorders we made

1:31:361:31:39

redundant. -- undermanned. As well

as the reserve force doing its best

1:31:391:31:45

to make up the shortfall, also

trying to keep their civilian

1:31:451:31:48

careers going. Once again, the

apparent is dumber cost is elusive.

1:31:481:32:00

-- the apparent sea of cost is a

loser. Assume that each regular is a

1:32:001:32:04

private on a basic rate of £50 a

day. Many earn more, but let's go

1:32:041:32:10

with the basic. The total spend

since the inception of the scheme on

1:32:101:32:15

wages and bonus payments is roughly

26.3 million, at a minimum. And the

1:32:151:32:25

26.3 million, an 88.97 dropout rate

and only 480 reserve soldiers. This

1:32:251:32:36

is before any consideration of the

cost of restructuring both the

1:32:361:32:38

regular army and the reserve army.

We are cutting full-time capable

1:32:381:32:46

soldiers and replacing them with

people who we are expecting too

1:32:461:32:50

much. The Government has created a

personnel problem in our Armed

1:32:501:32:56

Forces which is threatening to

spiral out of control. The men and

1:32:561:33:00

women in our Armed Forces, we would

all acknowledge in this chamber,

1:33:001:33:04

whether regular or reserves, our

dedicated professionals, being asked

1:33:041:33:08

to do a very difficult and demanding

job. But their numbers have been

1:33:081:33:15

cuts dangerously low, and we are

losing vital expertise. To make up

1:33:151:33:21

the shortfall, we have put in place

increased, unrealistic and unfair

1:33:211:33:24

burdens Army Reserve falls as, made

up of honest, hard-working people.

1:33:241:33:33

-- burdens on the reserve forces.

Isn't the immensely frustrating

1:33:331:33:41

factor that the Ministry of Defence

seems to be replicating exactly the

1:33:411:33:45

same mistakes they made in options

for change at the end of the Cold

1:33:451:33:52

War, pushing regulars out, creating

an atmosphere in which people think

1:33:521:33:56

that the Armed Forces are not

recruiting, damaging morale, and

1:33:561:34:01

then spending, over the Christmas

period, however much they must have

1:34:011:34:04

been spending blitzing the airwaves,

trying to attract people in an

1:34:041:34:08

atmosphere where people are being

forced out of the services?

My

1:34:081:34:14

honourable friend makes a very

important point, there was a

1:34:141:34:17

statistic released today which was

that 71% of businesses in the

1:34:171:34:22

service sector are finding it

difficult to recruit skilled

1:34:221:34:26

workforce, and the most difficult

one is manufacturing at 76%. We are

1:34:261:34:30

operating in a climate where skilled

people are at a premium. The Armed

1:34:301:34:38

Forces had skilled people, they sack

them. And rightly enough, the

1:34:381:34:41

business community has grabbed them.

We tried to them bring them back

1:34:411:34:47

into the Armed Forces, offering them

a bonus, and it hasn't worked. We

1:34:471:34:52

only managed to keep 480 of them!

This is shocking, it is

1:34:521:34:57

irresponsible, downright dangerous,

it is, in an unpredictable world. At

1:34:571:35:04

a time when we cannot afford to play

games, and we are not showing our

1:35:041:35:08

friends and allies our willingness

to support them and support our own

1:35:081:35:12

interests around the globe if we are

not retaining, keeping and training

1:35:121:35:17

our full-time personnel.

Thank you

very much, Madam Deputy Speaker. It

1:35:171:35:25

is a pleasure to follow the

honourable lady for Bridgend, who

1:35:251:35:29

always speaks knowledgeably on

defence matters, as she did again

1:35:291:35:31

this afternoon. I would like, if I

may, congratulate the honourable

1:35:311:35:36

member for Gagli on securing this

very important debate, and if I may

1:35:361:35:41

say so, for introducing it so ably

this afternoon. In my own

1:35:411:35:46

contribution, I wish to focus on the

national security capabilities

1:35:461:35:49

review, the NSCR, and in particular

its potential effect on the greatest

1:35:491:35:56

asset we possess in defence - namely

our people. There is already

1:35:561:36:02

considerable anxiety in the Armed

Forces about what this review might

1:36:021:36:05

lead to, and I think it is important

to understand the potentially very

1:36:051:36:11

serious damage to defensive those

fears are not addressed. The

1:36:111:36:15

position we start from at present

is, unfortunately, one where the

1:36:151:36:20

Armed Forces are already hollowing

out. As of May 2017, the total

1:36:201:36:26

strength of the regular armed fall

says was 138,000, some 5% below

1:36:261:36:33

their established strength as the

honourable member intimated,

1:36:331:36:37

although importantly shortages are

far worse in highly specialised

1:36:371:36:43

Bridgepoint traits, such as

qualified engineers. In the year to

1:36:431:36:51

April 20 12,950 people joined the UK

regular Armed Forces, but in the

1:36:511:36:57

same period 14,970 left, a net

deficit of 2000 personnel. At

1:36:571:37:05

present, trained personnel are

leaving the Armed Forces faster than

1:37:051:37:09

the recruiting organisations, which

are already running at a standstill,

1:37:091:37:12

are able to make up for those

departing. In particular, the

1:37:121:37:18

regular army are currently around

30% below their annual recruitment

1:37:181:37:22

target, managing only around 7000

new recruits of the 10,000 required

1:37:221:37:26

last year. Moreover, as borne out

any most recent Armed Forces

1:37:261:37:33

continuous attitude survey, which

was published in May 2017, there are

1:37:331:37:40

also issues of morale, which is not

as high across the Armed Forces as

1:37:401:37:44

we would like it to be. Pressure and

service life with families is given

1:37:441:37:50

as the greatest reason for leaving.

As people leave, that only increases

1:37:501:37:55

pressure on those who remain. There

has also been a particular drop-off

1:37:551:38:00

of morale as reported in the Royal

Marines, which is disappointing, but

1:38:001:38:04

which may well be linked to some of

the speculation about the future of

1:38:041:38:09

our amphibious shipping and

potential reductions in the size of

1:38:091:38:12

the Royal Marines as a whole. I too

hope that speculation does not prove

1:38:121:38:16

to come to reality. We are therefore

dealing, if we're honest, with a

1:38:161:38:23

somewhat fragile situation, even the

outcome of the NSCR is known. There

1:38:231:38:28

is clearly much work being

undertaken, both in the MOD and the

1:38:281:38:34

Cabinet Office, in relation to this

review, but I was particularly

1:38:341:38:37

alarmed when one newspaper, the Sun,

reported some weeks ago that at one

1:38:371:38:44

stage the Treasury were arguing for

a reduction in the size of the

1:38:441:38:48

regular army from its established

strength of 82,500 down to as low as

1:38:481:38:53

50,000. If carried to fruition, this

ludicrous proposal would involve

1:38:531:38:59

making redundant well over a third

of the serving regular army and

1:38:591:39:05

would constitute perhaps the

greatest blow the British Army has

1:39:051:39:09

ever suffered in peacetime. At a

time when we face a resurgent

1:39:091:39:14

Russia, which has carried out the

annexation of the Crimea, and which

1:39:141:39:18

still has further territorial

ambitions in Ukraine, as well as

1:39:181:39:22

placing pressure on the Baltic

states, reducing the army in this

1:39:221:39:27

way would send entirely the wrong

signals to the Russians about our

1:39:271:39:31

commitments to Nato and our

willingness to uphold the

1:39:311:39:35

territorial integrity of our allies.

It would be sheer folly. I only have

1:39:351:39:40

to hope that the pinstripe warriors

of the Treasury, who live in fear

1:39:401:39:46

that the air conditioning might

malfunction, or that the teacher

1:39:461:39:48

Ollie might be late, have since

abandoned such a doubt suggestion,

1:39:481:39:53

as there is no way that I, and as my

honourable friend for Will Funnell

1:39:531:40:01

intimated, and many of my colleagues

on these benches could possibly

1:40:011:40:06

support a reduction of that

magnitude in regular manpower. It is

1:40:061:40:09

simply unthinkable. Following on

from the 2010 Strategic Defence

1:40:091:40:16

Review, as the minister who was

responsible for implementing tranche

1:40:161:40:20

three at Froch four of the army

redundancy programme, I can tell the

1:40:201:40:25

house that this was an extremely

difficult process. -- tranche three

1:40:251:40:30

and tranche four. It had a

detrimental affect on retention as

1:40:301:40:33

well as recruitment. I very much

hope that we will not have to

1:40:331:40:38

announce any further rounds of

redundancy in the army, because they

1:40:381:40:41

will threaten to make the situation

I was describing earlier even worse.

1:40:411:40:45

I believe that many personnel are

now watching this review very

1:40:451:40:49

closely indeed, and if it is seen to

lead to a further reduction in our

1:40:491:40:56

conventional capabilities, or the

strength of our Armed Forces, then I

1:40:561:40:59

believe that many personnel will

react by simply voting with their

1:40:591:41:04

feet and opting to leave what they

may perceive to be a constantly

1:41:041:41:08

shrinking enterprise. To be clear, I

am not suggesting to the House that

1:41:081:41:14

there would be a sudden Rashford the

-- rush for the exit. But there

1:41:141:41:21

would be a steady drumbeat of those

requesting to leave above and beyond

1:41:211:41:28

the ability of the recruiting

organisations to replace them. The

1:41:281:41:32

hollowing out would become worse,

and in some particularly sensitive

1:41:321:41:36

areas which the minister will be

well aware of, critical. I really

1:41:361:41:43

believe that senior ministers who

will take the final decisions

1:41:431:41:47

regarding the NSCR needs to

understand this stark reality about

1:41:471:41:54

personnel and what might ultimately

influence them to stick or twist and

1:41:541:41:57

change their careers. These

personnel don't want sympathy, but

1:41:571:42:04

they do want and deserve our

respect, and they deserve our

1:42:041:42:08

empathy too. In the end, as the

honourable lady from Bridgend

1:42:081:42:15

intimated, you can buy as much shiny

new kit as you like, but unless you

1:42:151:42:20

have the people available

sufficiently trained to operate it

1:42:201:42:23

in a hostile environment, the kit is

of no use to you and does not

1:42:231:42:27

provide the deterrent effect that

you would wish. Too often in defence

1:42:271:42:32

we talk about capability in terms of

equipment, whether it be new Ajax

1:42:321:42:38

fighting vehicles for the army, Type

45 destroyers for the Navy, F-35 for

1:42:381:42:43

the Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Air

Force. However, without the required

1:42:431:42:48

blend of man and machine, or

increasingly woman and machine, you

1:42:481:42:53

have no capability at all. And we

forget that at our peril. The truth

1:42:531:43:01

is that over the last few decades

under governments of both colours,

1:43:011:43:06

our service personnel and indeed the

country have witnessed a continuing

1:43:061:43:10

retrenchment in our capabilities, in

our numbers of those who served in

1:43:101:43:14

uniform. Together with our nuclear

deterrent, they are a national

1:43:141:43:22

insurance policy, as the chairman of

the select committee said. They are

1:43:221:43:26

the defenders of our freedom and of

our way of life, and we are now at

1:43:261:43:30

real risk of skimping on the

premium. As a former minister in the

1:43:301:43:35

department, I can only offer the

house might earnest and heartfelt

1:43:351:43:39

advice that we must not take our

Armed Forces personnel and their

1:43:391:43:42

families for granted. Our history as

a nation shows that when we fail to

1:43:421:43:48

keep up the insurance policy, as we

did when we allowed our Armed Forces

1:43:481:43:54

to seriously degrade in the early to

mid-19th and, the ultimate result, a

1:43:541:44:00

world war in which some 50 million

people died, was utterly

1:44:001:44:03

catastrophic. -- the early to mid

1930s. We in this house, we who were

1:44:031:44:10

sent here by our citizens, whose

responsibility it is to protect

1:44:101:44:14

them, we are the guardians of that

national insurance policy, and on

1:44:141:44:23

that basis I believe we have to say

to our government that the time for

1:44:231:44:28

cuts is over. In fact, it is time

for our cover to be increased.

Thank

1:44:281:44:39

you, Madam Deputy Speaker, a

pleasure to be speaking at the my

1:44:391:44:42

colleague on the committee and

others. I also commend the right

1:44:421:44:47

honourable friend therefore bringing

this motion forward. As a member of

1:44:471:44:52

a defence family whose nephew just

joins the Royal Engineers, we are

1:44:521:44:57

very much aware of his defence of

the members of the Armed Forces.

1:44:571:45:02

Madam Deputy Speaker, those of us

who take an interest in these things

1:45:021:45:06

know that this government's running

of the Ministry of Defence has

1:45:061:45:09

focused more on slick slogans than

it has on the huge issues which face

1:45:091:45:14

the department.

1:45:141:45:18

I'm sure it is no surprise that

recent media coverage has focused on

1:45:181:45:22

the relative success of the

propaganda. Take the year of the

1:45:221:45:27

Navy campaign, which probably

couldn't have gone worse. I'm sure

1:45:271:45:33

the air Chief Marshal and the chief

of the General Staff wake up in the

1:45:331:45:36

night in a cold sweat. This followed

a slightly botched army recruiting

1:45:361:45:45

campaign which saw a refusal to

speak to Alistair Bob -- Alistair

1:45:451:45:54

Bunkall of Sky News. As the

Conservatives and Unionists struggle

1:45:541:46:02

with their messaging, I thought they

would -- I would go back to another

1:46:021:46:06

time when they were divided on

Europe to find a slogan that best

1:46:061:46:09

sums up what I'm going to talk about

today. Back to basics. As a -- as

1:46:091:46:14

the government bangs on about the

vision of a global Britain and the

1:46:141:46:17

Foreign Secretary comes out with

absurd assertions on Queen Elizabeth

1:46:171:46:22

been deployed to the South China

Sea, they continue to neglect their

1:46:221:46:26

most basic of defence tasks at home,

namely the defence of the homeland

1:46:261:46:33

and the North Atlantic. Earlier this

year I was delighted to attend the

1:46:331:46:38

launch of the Whitehall paper,

facilitated by the Right Honourable

1:46:381:46:46

member who is the chair of the

all-party group. He also happens to

1:46:461:46:53

be the Norwegian defence at Pashey

in London. It was on the subject of

1:46:531:46:58

revitalising our collective defence

in the north Atlantic area. His

1:46:581:47:03

contributions to the booklet, he

contributes to the booklet by saying

1:47:031:47:06

that for most of recorded history

the cold grey waters of the North

1:47:061:47:10

Atlantic were seen by most, even on

these islands, has been the very

1:47:101:47:15

edge of civilisation, a fact that

changed rapidly to the affected was

1:47:151:47:20

the crucial link between North

America and Europe during the world

1:47:201:47:23

wars and the planned process during

the Cold War. The North Atlantic

1:47:231:47:27

gives its name to an alliance which

all of us I would hope in this house

1:47:271:47:32

is the bedrock of our defence and

security. And during the first

1:47:321:47:38

period of Nato's existence prevented

the sea lines of communication

1:47:381:47:45

between the United States, Canada

and Europe as a core tasks. The UK

1:47:451:47:50

developed a world leading

anti-submarine warfare capability as

1:47:501:47:56

the skills honed hunting U-boats

were allied with American technology

1:47:561:48:00

to ensure that Nato held the

operational advantage during the

1:48:001:48:02

period. And so at a time when many

believe Russian incursions into our

1:48:021:48:11

waters are again at the level of

those during the Cold War, we must

1:48:111:48:14

consider if the balance of power is

still the same. Madame Deputy

1:48:141:48:20

Speaker, I'm afraid that for me and

those of us on these benches, it is

1:48:201:48:23

not. We know that the escort fleet

is at an historic low of 17 usable

1:48:231:48:30

frigates and destroyers. None of

them were deployed outside UK waters

1:48:301:48:36

for the first time during living

memory. The warship base for the

1:48:361:48:47

North is on its southern coast. Yet

if you listen to the government, you

1:48:471:48:56

would think all was well at the --

for the defence of the realm. Record

1:48:561:49:02

investment, they say. I was glad

that my colleagues in the defence

1:49:021:49:09

select committee endorsed the

National Audit Office assertion that

1:49:091:49:13

the affordability of the equipment

plan is now at great risk, greater

1:49:131:49:18

risk that -- ban at any time since

recording was introduced. They

1:49:181:49:25

released a report into pyjamas last

month. At the beginning of the

1:49:251:49:27

report there was a look of the

previous committee reports. --

1:49:271:49:32

procurement. It is remarkable to see

how little this government has

1:49:321:49:35

learned from previous mistakes. We

know that those who do not learn

1:49:351:49:38

from history are doomed to repeat

it. The defence cuts the

1:49:381:49:44

Conservative and Unionist, the made

in 2010, the decision to reduce the

1:49:441:49:47

escort fleet to its current low

number, were meant to have been the

1:49:471:49:55

last week could see for the

foreseeable future. And the MOD

1:49:551:50:00

vowed to develop an affordable

equipment -- equipment plan. Yet

1:50:001:50:03

forgive my French pronunciation...

The deficit which led to the 2012

1:50:031:50:10

cuts was £38 billion. On the upper

lipids -- the upper limits now worth

1:50:101:50:18

£30 billion. That means hard

decisions will have to be taken. For

1:50:181:50:23

example, can we be certain that the

purchase of the at 35s will be

1:50:231:50:28

balanced sensibly against the rest

of the defence budget, especially

1:50:281:50:32

now there are more expensive with

the depreciation in the value of

1:50:321:50:36

sterling? Those who value defence in

the high North will either be

1:50:361:50:45

delayed or decreased in the scope of

the current planned purchase of the

1:50:451:50:52

Boeing Poseidon. I need to make

progress. Members do want to get in.

1:50:521:50:57

Last month it was no surprise when I

received a reply to a Parliamentary

1:50:571:51:01

question which revealed that no

fewer than 17 occasions last year

1:51:011:51:05

MPAs from allied nations undertook

missions from Lossiemouth. This is

1:51:051:51:12

an unacceptable situation made worse

by the fact that by the most

1:51:121:51:15

generous estimate it will now be

2024 until this capability is

1:51:151:51:19

returned. This return to a triangle

of North Atlantic patrolling from

1:51:191:51:27

Scotland, Iceland and Norway, will

hopefully be accompanied by a

1:51:271:51:32

reinstatement of Nato's Atlantic

command. I am glad to say that my

1:51:321:51:38

party has made it clear from the

start that Scotland is an obvious

1:51:381:51:43

choice. I can only hope that members

of the government party opposite

1:51:431:51:47

will use their renewed leveraged to

press the MOD on this. We must only

1:51:471:51:55

hope that this return to the posture

can only be accompanied by

1:51:551:51:59

continuing commitment to one of our

oldest allies, the kingdom of

1:51:591:52:03

Norway, as represented by the

ability to deploy the Royal Marines

1:52:031:52:06

across the North Sea provided by...

Scrapping these ships was a much

1:52:061:52:16

anticipated consequence of the

security and capability review we

1:52:161:52:23

were waiting for this year but which

has been delayed yet again by a

1:52:231:52:27

government that seems quite unable

to take hard decisions.

1:52:271:52:31

Unfortunately the hopes for an

improvement in not only Scotland,

1:52:311:52:35

but the entire state security,

hinges very much on that review. The

1:52:351:52:40

extent of the adjustment, the

favoured euphemism, contained within

1:52:401:52:47

it. I am not holding my breath for

good news. I fully endorse the

1:52:471:52:50

findings of my committee's report

when it said the MOD faces the risk

1:52:501:52:54

that in future it may have to return

to a situation where affordability

1:52:541:53:01

of the portfolio is maintained by

delaying or reducing the scope of

1:53:011:53:06

projects. Anyone who has read the NA

or report, knows that the

1:53:061:53:15

procurement process delays the

decision-making such as this does

1:53:151:53:26

nobody any favours. It is an

incredible situation, and I can only

1:53:261:53:30

explain by repeating the words of

Sir General Richard Barham 's, when

1:53:301:53:36

he gave evidence in front of us and

November, the reason we have a

1:53:361:53:41

review only two years after the 2015

defence review, is that at no time

1:53:411:53:46

in the review has the amount of

resources provided to defence

1:53:461:53:51

matched the programme. This is a

situation which will be exasperated

1:53:511:53:57

by Brexit and the various economic

consequences it has presented us

1:53:571:54:03

with. The fact that the only part of

the defence budget to be protected

1:54:031:54:06

by the cuts is the one for the

deterrent, is one which my party has

1:54:061:54:10

a long-standing disagreement with. I

am sure we don't need to go into

1:54:101:54:14

that again today. I am glad to say

we are beginning... Let me bring my

1:54:141:54:24

remarks to a close, Madame Deputy

Speaker, by urging the government to

1:54:241:54:34

lift the public pay sector gap for

Armed Forces personnel, focus on the

1:54:341:54:38

essential tasks of defending not

only Scotland but this entire

1:54:381:54:45

political state and critically, the

North Atlantic. It will come as no

1:54:451:54:48

surprise I would ask them to take

Trident out of the defence budget

1:54:481:54:53

and focus on conventional capability

within that budget, which we so

1:54:531:54:57

desperately need. And it will come

as no surprise that I would hope

1:54:571:55:00

Scotland, which has suffered

underinvestment, will be improved by

1:55:001:55:07

independence. It is the government

is challenged to prove us wrong.

1:55:071:55:12

By way of disclosure, I had the

privilege to serve in the Afghan and

1:55:161:55:20

Iraq campaigns and I remain a

reservist soldier. I thank the right

1:55:201:55:24

honourable gentleman from deadly for

bringing this debate. It is a

1:55:241:55:29

pleasure to follow the honourable

member for West Dunbartonshire. I

1:55:291:55:32

would like to see defence, talk

about defence in the broader sense

1:55:321:55:37

of the word. I think the security of

a nation rests on many things, not

1:55:371:55:41

just how many ships and tanks we

have. I think at times we can be a

1:55:411:55:45

little fixated on heavy metal

warfare. Physical defence is

1:55:451:55:50

important but it should not be seen

in isolation, and I think today I

1:55:501:55:54

would like to talk about security

and defence in the round. Having

1:55:541:55:59

said that, it is quite clear that we

are significantly under resourced

1:55:591:56:03

and underfunded. What concerns me

most of all in terms of government

1:56:031:56:08

department, is that the Treasury

seems to fail to understand that the

1:56:081:56:11

point of having an armed force, is

not to use it. The Treasury seems to

1:56:111:56:18

think Evan Armed Forces and being

used, it can be cuts. That is an

1:56:181:56:22

incredibly foolish thing to think.

It encourages our generals to look

1:56:221:56:27

for war to justify the existence of

the Armed Forces, and starting wars

1:56:271:56:30

and being politically or

economically am morning to finish

1:56:301:56:34

them. There is some truth there with

regards to Iraq. That is bad

1:56:341:56:40

strategy and potentially disastrous

for this nation. I would like to

1:56:401:56:44

talk about strategy and whether we

have one. How we can improve

1:56:441:56:47

coherence in policy-making. First on

strategy, I think it is ironic we

1:56:471:56:58

have someone in think tanks in this

country but we seem to lack one

1:56:581:57:04

sometimes on national strategy. I

feel we are losing the capacity and

1:57:041:57:08

confidence to act without clinging

on to the coat-tails of the EU or

1:57:081:57:12

the United States. The United

States, despite its many great

1:57:121:57:14

benefits as an ally, has compounded

the problem. A power which possesses

1:57:141:57:23

overwhelming force has little need

of strategy because it has so much

1:57:231:57:26

power. I think that has resulted in

thoughtlessness, definitely in Iraq

1:57:261:57:33

and to a lesser extent in

Afghanistan. We have been somewhat

1:57:331:57:36

corrupted by that thought as well

because our strategy seems to be in

1:57:361:57:39

the last 20 years to cobble together

just enough kit to take part in a

1:57:391:57:43

meaningful level in a US-led

coalition so we can have a political

1:57:431:57:48

voice at the top table. That

strategy is now under pressure,

1:57:481:57:52

Madame David is bigger. First, the

US has been slowly disengaging,

1:57:521:57:56

regardless of what people think

about President Trump. And the

1:57:561:58:02

Russians are now a threat with what

they call contemporary military

1:58:021:58:07

conflict, both military tools and

non-military tools as well.

I think

1:58:071:58:13

in forgiving way. One thing that has

been worrying me a great deal is a

1:58:131:58:17

number of people have cited Russia

as a growing threat. It would be

1:58:171:58:21

dangerous to ignore the threat from

the south. The threat from the South

1:58:211:58:25

still exists. Is it not time that we

stopped focusing simply on the

1:58:251:58:31

threat from the east but recognise

the threat from the South has not

1:58:311:58:34

gone away?

I would like to bring it

in a bit later and I am trying to

1:58:341:58:41

finish a thesis on contemporary

Russian warfare! The honourable lady

1:58:411:58:49

makes a very valid point. Post

Brexit I think it is critical for

1:58:491:58:53

our nation that we have a powerful

security and defence policy, one

1:58:531:58:58

that protects our identity, our

values, our brand, if you like, but

1:58:581:59:03

also present a balanced and

comprehensive security. And part of

1:59:031:59:08

that is to remain a powerful player

on the world stage across the

1:59:081:59:13

spectrum of effects. I think we have

to be more holistic. There has been

1:59:131:59:25

some important work done looking at

national strategy. Our national

1:59:251:59:32

strategy, according to one of these

reports, rests on military and

1:59:321:59:37

economic power. I do however wonder

if that is not quite subtle enough

1:59:371:59:40

for today's world. In defence one

needs to be thinking about

1:59:401:59:46

humanitarian power, governmental

power, cyber security, public

1:59:461:59:51

outreach... All these tools are

critical because the waters and the

1:59:511:59:56

conflict of the past 30 years,

including those we have been engaged

1:59:561:59:59

in, show that populations have

become critical information and

1:59:592:00:04

psychological targets. And if you

look at the Russian doctrine, the

2:00:042:00:09

three Russian military doctrines

since 1999, they all put the

2:00:092:00:17

integration of military and

non-military effects in civilian

2:00:172:00:21

populations as a critical

characteristic of modern warfare. We

2:00:212:00:25

see that in Eastern Europe and

elsewhere. Historically, the tools

2:00:252:00:31

of grand strategy have been held at

a national level. Military forces

2:00:312:00:35

one level of that defensive

strategy. I think we need nowadays,

2:00:352:00:39

especially with Brexit, we have an

opportunity to rethink our national

2:00:392:00:44

strategic culture to understand how

we can use the past Ahrar

2:00:442:00:49

experiences of strategic culture, to

understand the future. Our greatest

2:00:492:00:51

military theorist ever, perhaps,

said that we were champions of the

2:00:512:00:58

indirect strategy. A powerful navy,

a small standing navy, using money

2:00:582:01:03

to encourage others to fight, using

alliances and setting examples by

2:01:032:01:06

behaviour.

2:01:062:01:11

An example, if I may, with the

Russian threat in Ukraine. We have

2:01:112:01:16

parked soldiers and kit and about

four planes, about half the RAF

2:01:162:01:20

these days, in the Baltic republics.

Russia has used force in Ukraine and

2:01:202:01:24

is bellicose against the Baltic

republics, and it is right we put

2:01:242:01:29

that kit there, but the most

powerful threat to Ukraine is not

2:01:292:01:33

the military threat necessarily, but

it is the political and information

2:01:332:01:38

war, the corruption and co-option of

its political leadership, the

2:01:382:01:40

trashing of that nation's ability,

confidence and statehood. Our key

2:01:402:01:47

weapon here is not the planes, it is

not the troops, as important as they

2:01:472:01:50

are. But it is our ability to work

with the Canadians, Americans,

2:01:502:01:56

Germans, the EU to provide a martial

package for the Ukraine, significant

2:01:562:02:02

sums of money. We spend 13 billion

on aid every year, much of it badly

2:02:022:02:07

spent, I apologise for saying, and

yet here is a major prize that we

2:02:072:02:11

are not trying to reach. We spend

probably 40 million in Ukraine all

2:02:112:02:14

in, including Dfid. The most

powerful weapon we can have against

2:02:142:02:25

Russian expansion, a stable Ukraine

that looks like Poland and not like

2:02:252:02:29

Russia, we don't seem to be thinking

enough about, and this seems to me

2:02:292:02:33

to be an example of a haphazard

strategic thinking. So I'd argue

2:02:332:02:37

that we have an unbalanced foreign

policy. Dfid burns through money

2:02:372:02:41

like it is going out of fashion, and

I remember, my own experience, I've

2:02:412:02:46

had lots of pretty miserable

experiences with them, and I run the

2:02:462:02:51

asking of the UK consulate in Basra

how many Dfid project there were in

2:02:512:02:55

southern Iraq, and I was staggered

that they could not provide an

2:02:552:03:00

answer, and that for me has summed

up the profligacy and lack of

2:03:002:03:05

confidence. I know they do great

work in some parts of the world, I

2:03:052:03:08

have not seen the best side of it.

At the same time, the SO was

2:03:082:03:14

chronically underfunded, defences

scraping together savings in areas

2:03:142:03:17

that they should not be looking at

making savings. Cyber attacks

2:03:172:03:21

regular in Europe, France, Germany,

and the UK, and the BBC, a critical

2:03:212:03:27

part of our soft power

infrastructure, is funded from hand

2:03:272:03:31

to mouth. The BBC should be funded,

World Service TV and radio, should

2:03:312:03:37

be funded entirely out of Dfid by

rejigging and looking at the

2:03:372:03:43

definitions of funding. Looking

briefly, I will try to make as much

2:03:432:03:46

progress as possible, I haven't got

too much more to say. Looking at

2:03:462:03:50

defence procurement, can we have a

level playing field? Let's by kit

2:03:502:03:54

from other people to save money, but

countries with closed markets, why

2:03:542:03:59

French companies allowed to bid here

when we do not have the same rights

2:03:592:04:02

in those countries? I will be

seeking a meeting with the minister

2:04:022:04:05

in the nearest future to secure the

McCusker as the need for a complex

2:04:052:04:12

radar technology demonstrator in my

constituency, and as the right

2:04:122:04:16

honourable gentleman knows, the red

factory produces all the radars for

2:04:162:04:20

carriers and Type 45 destroyers, and

if we want our own indigenous radar

2:04:202:04:27

capability, we need that technology

demonstrator soon. The right

2:04:272:04:35

honourable member for Bridgend made

a series of good points about

2:04:352:04:42

reservists, our reserve unit on the

Isle of Wight was saved by the work

2:04:422:04:48

of Captain and Clark and Acting

Sergeant Mark Simmonds, with whom I

2:04:482:04:54

feel a certain affinity. It is

individuals punching above their

2:04:542:05:00

weight to save units from closure.

It is Joe also, a point made by my

2:05:002:05:07

honourable friend from the new

Forest and North Welcher, there is

2:05:072:05:10

no redundancy in our system. -- it

is true also. There are so few

2:05:102:05:16

surface ships, 17, I think, give any

Admiral a drink or two, and they

2:05:162:05:21

will admit they are not protectable

by the Royal Navy at its current

2:05:212:05:29

size. In any conflict with the

nations, those carriers would have

2:05:292:05:33

to sit in a base because they are

not predictable unless they are

2:05:332:05:36

surrounded by the US fleet and have

no protection against ship busting

2:05:362:05:42

ballistic missiles. If we keep

reducing the Armed Forces in

2:05:422:05:46

personnel and kit, we are

encouraging violence against this

2:05:462:05:49

nation, not deterring it. Some brief

suggestions. Can the Foreign Affairs

2:05:492:05:54

Select Committee champion thinking

about strategy, holding hearings to

2:05:542:05:58

give platforms to leading academics

to discussion national strategy and

2:05:582:06:01

national culture? This is a perfect

point in our history to look at our

2:06:012:06:07

national strategy with Brexit coming

up. Leaving the security review to

2:06:072:06:13

Government to provide answers is

that they will come up with the

2:06:132:06:16

answers that it once, not the

answers that we all need and want to

2:06:162:06:21

hear. We need to rethink Dfid

funding and encourage Dfid to take

2:06:212:06:27

greater responsibility in a more

holistic and joined up strategy. And

2:06:272:06:30

we need to think about defence in

the round. Summing up, we need all

2:06:302:06:34

forms of power for our security and

the protection and projection of our

2:06:342:06:39

values, soft power, hard power,

cyber power, but most of all an

2:06:392:06:44

attitude of smart power, integrated

power, where we need to study and

2:06:442:06:47

understand how to project that power

at a strategic, operational and

2:06:472:06:53

tactical level, and from what I have

seen, both on operations and here,

2:06:532:06:58

we still lack that, but it is not an

achievable, given ambition from

2:06:582:07:01

government to do so. Thank you.

Jamie Stone.

Madam Deputy Speaker, I

2:07:012:07:09

rise in this place as defence

spokesman for my party, and I want

2:07:092:07:14

to first of all remind the chamber

that my daughter is a serving

2:07:142:07:19

officer in the Armed Forces. I

shared the honourable member's

2:07:192:07:26

trepidation in speaking after so

many highly informed contributions.

2:07:262:07:31

I want to use, first of all, my own

constituency as the basis of my

2:07:312:07:36

first point. My constituency is no

stranger to the Armed Forces. Very

2:07:362:07:40

near where I live, we have an RAF

weapons range, one area is used for

2:07:402:07:51

an annual exercise, and there is a

long and close association with the

2:07:512:07:54

Armed Forces going back to the Royal

Regiment of Scotland. And if you

2:07:542:08:02

take week in the north of my

constituency, tradition the TA has

2:08:022:08:06

always recruited extremely there,

and support for the army cadets, RAF

2:08:062:08:13

cadets is very strong indeed, and I

applaud and put on record my

2:08:132:08:17

recognition of what they do, and

their contribution to the social

2:08:172:08:21

cohesion of the area. My first point

is this. I am a great believer in

2:08:212:08:28

the common-sense of the British

public, and I think that I know from

2:08:282:08:32

knocking on doors so money times now

that if you talk to people about the

2:08:322:08:36

Armed Forces and say, we have to

defend ourselves, they say,

2:08:362:08:40

actually, that is exactly right, so

the point I made to government is

2:08:402:08:45

this, I hope a decision will be

taken to spend more on our Armed

2:08:452:08:49

Forces, but I would say that you can

take the British public with you

2:08:492:08:53

because ultimately they recognised

the need for this and the

2:08:532:08:56

responsibility of doing it. I might

say in passing that I served any

2:08:562:09:01

Territorial Army myself. However,

Madam Deputy Speaker, I cannot

2:09:012:09:08

compete with the Augusta Rank and

record of the members for Isle of

2:09:082:09:12

Wight, North Wiltshire, the minister

himself, and indeed Barnsley

2:09:122:09:17

Central. But nevertheless, Madam

Deputy Speaker, if I had to present

2:09:172:09:21

arms, if my ancient frame would

allow it, I could still get round to

2:09:212:09:25

doing it! My second point was based

on what was the situation that was

2:09:252:09:34

touched on earlier, both my

brothers-in-law served in the Ulster

2:09:342:09:36

Defence Regiment, and over a long

and happy marriage, I saw the

2:09:362:09:42

situation change from one of the

Travels and murder, my wife comes

2:09:422:09:48

from County Armagh, I do know about

all this, to what we see today. --

2:09:482:09:56

Troubles. The UDRP, our

intelligence, the SAS, they played

2:09:562:10:02

the supreme role in defeating the

terrorists on both sides of the

2:10:022:10:04

divide. We should not forget that,

but the point is today, God forbid

2:10:042:10:09

that we ever have a situation,

either within the UK or close all

2:10:092:10:14

borders where we would have to

mobilise that sort of falls, I doubt

2:10:142:10:17

we could do it. And other members

hinted at this already - if we had

2:10:172:10:22

to, could we fight the Falklands

campaign? No, we couldn't. Enough

2:10:222:10:27

said on that. The point has been

made, particularly by the member for

2:10:272:10:32

North Dumbartonshire, that our navy

is critically small, and that is

2:10:322:10:35

why, on Monday, I questioned the

minister about the point the member

2:10:352:10:41

made about so many of our ships

being tied up at that time over

2:10:412:10:46

Christmas and not available for

services overseas. I share

2:10:462:10:50

absolutely what the honourable

member for North Wiltshire says

2:10:502:10:53

about what he calls the high North.

The member for Dumbartonshire and

2:10:532:10:59

said it was our doorstep.

Representing Caithness and

2:10:592:11:03

Sutherland, it is my doorstep, if

you don't mind me saying so! And it

2:11:032:11:09

is absolutely correct that the

Russians are establishing bases

2:11:092:11:12

there. I am not advocating going

back to Scapa Flow, but we will have

2:11:122:11:15

to think carefully about the

strategic positioning of our forces.

2:11:152:11:20

Cyber security has been talked about

today, there was a story in the

2:11:202:11:26

Times, perhaps a scare story, but if

you read it, it said that our cyber

2:11:262:11:30

security had been breached to the

extent where we could almost be

2:11:302:11:35

fooled into launching a nuclear

strike. Whether fact or fiction,

2:11:352:11:37

that shows how incredibly important

cyber security is. My final and last

2:11:372:11:44

point...

Just to intervene, rest

assured that the house should know

2:11:442:11:52

there are robust measures in place

to make sure that the event which he

2:11:522:11:56

suggests will not happen.

I thank

the Minister for that very good

2:11:562:11:59

assurance. It does go to show some

of the aspects and the more

2:11:592:12:05

irresponsible reporting, I will give

way.

The Chatham House report that

2:12:052:12:08

he is right to refer to spoke not

about our own missiles, I'm quite

2:12:082:12:13

concerned about the Russians, but

they referred to the US as being

2:12:132:12:19

susceptible to cyber attacks.

Absolutely correct. My final point

2:12:192:12:22

is this, that the confidence of the

members of our Armed Forces in our

2:12:222:12:28

politicians cannot be

underestimated, but of course when

2:12:282:12:31

it is eroded, and the members of the

Armed Forces feel that we are not

2:12:312:12:35

acting in their best interests, or

indeed understand what they do, that

2:12:352:12:40

is incredibly corrosive, and that in

turn affects their capability to

2:12:402:12:44

defend this country, God forbid, if

that time ever comes. So the point

2:12:442:12:50

has been made about the pay cap, I

have to be careful, I have interests

2:12:502:12:54

that I have declared. It is about

housing, about recognition of what

2:12:542:12:59

they do. On behalf of my party, I

absolutely applaud the tone of this

2:12:592:13:06

debate, and it is my great honour to

associate my party with it and the

2:13:062:13:10

fundamental thrust of what has been

said today. Thank you.

Douglas Ross.

2:13:102:13:16

It is a real pleasure to follow the

member for Caithness and Sutherland

2:13:162:13:20

and Easter Ross, and I hope the town

does not quickly dropped to soon

2:13:202:13:25

after his very consensual remarks,

which I am sure we all agree with.

2:13:252:13:28

Could I also congratulate the right

honourable member for securing this

2:13:282:13:32

debate? It is extremely important, I

listened very closely to other

2:13:322:13:37

honourable and right honourable

members about the number of debates

2:13:372:13:39

that have previously been held in

this chamber, and I think we should

2:13:392:13:43

aspire to what was done in the past,

rather than just having the odd

2:13:432:13:47

debate or two in this place. I would

also say that the motion is very

2:13:472:13:53

wide-ranging, I use that as an

opportunity to speak about my local

2:13:532:13:57

bases in the constituency, but also

a number of other issues connected

2:13:572:14:02

to the whole military aspect of what

we are discussing today, and I was

2:14:022:14:06

very taken by the point made by the

honourable member for North

2:14:062:14:10

Wiltshire who says it is very

difficult, when you speak after so

2:14:102:14:13

many credible speakers, the chair of

the committee, the right honourable

2:14:132:14:20

man himself and others to have

served in the Armed Forces, and I

2:14:202:14:23

cannot speak with any intimate

knowledge, having served in the

2:14:232:14:26

military. My only connection is an

important one to me, however, that

2:14:262:14:30

any Member of Parliament for Moray

is intrinsically involved with the

2:14:302:14:38

Armed Forces, and that is why it is

such a great pleasure to speak in

2:14:382:14:42

this debate is today. I want to

quickly mention both of the bases,

2:14:422:14:47

first of all Kinross, which we have

heard mentioned already in this

2:14:472:14:50

debate, which was previously the

home of the Nimrod fleet, but after

2:14:502:14:54

that decision in the 2010 SDR, the

home of the 39 Engineer Regiment,

2:14:542:15:00

which has been extremely busy in the

last year, in South Sudan, in the

2:15:002:15:09

Falkland Islands, in Romania, and in

Cyprus in the anti-ayes coalitions.

2:15:092:15:16

There was much fear and concern when

RAF Kinloss closed as an airbase.

2:15:162:15:25

The community was concerned, clearly

serving personnel were concerned,

2:15:252:15:27

and there was a genuine fear that

nothing would be put in its place,

2:15:272:15:30

so to be celebrating the work done

by our excellent service personnel

2:15:302:15:35

at an army barracks in place of the

airbase, I think that is something

2:15:352:15:39

we are all very happy with and proud

of in Moray to see that strong

2:15:392:15:46

military condition continuing there.

2:15:462:16:43

Also based in Cyprus for operations

over Iraq and Syria, and in 2018,

2:16:532:16:57

later on this year, deployments in a

mania and Roman. -- Romania and

2:16:572:17:05

Oman. And we await with bated breath

the arrival of the Poseidon

2:17:052:17:10

aircraft, everyone celebrating this

huge investment, £400 million of

2:17:102:17:17

investment at RAF Lossiemouth, 400

additional personnel coming to our

2:17:172:17:20

area. I have informed the honourable

member that I will mention him in my

2:17:202:17:23

speech because, unfortunately, he

took no interventions, despite us

2:17:232:17:29

having a bit of flexibility, and I

won't be so churlish if he chooses

2:17:292:17:32

to intervene on me, but the member

for West Dunbartonshire,

2:17:322:17:37

unfortunately, has taken the

approach that he will not celebrate

2:17:372:17:42

and welcome this huge investment,

investment that is welcomed by

2:17:422:17:46

everyone in Moray. He would rather

raise scare stories. Now, I thought,

2:17:462:17:51

Madam Deputy Speaker, when I was

successful in defeating the previous

2:17:512:17:56

SNP incumbent for Moray, I thought

we got rid of the time when the SNP

2:17:562:18:00

politicians would raise scare

stories about the MOD presence in

2:18:002:18:04

Moray. I will come to my honourable

friend in a minute. I thought we got

2:18:042:18:08

rid of that, but no. The honourable

member for West Dunbartonshire, just

2:18:082:18:14

this week, saw an SNP MP demanding

reassurance from the UK Government

2:18:142:18:18

that they will proceed with the

maritime patrol aircraft.

2:18:182:18:46

I think we should be focusing on the

benefits coming to Moray, coming to

2:18:532:18:57

that area, rather than launching

scare stories, and I note he has

2:18:572:19:01

remained in his seat, trying to

enter that I have said anything

2:19:012:19:04

wrong. If the honourable lady needs

to support, I will give way.

I have

2:19:042:19:14

no need to support my colleague but

I want to take issue with one

2:19:142:19:18

comment he has just made, and that

is about the nine maritime

2:19:182:19:22

petroleum. We have a situation in

Govan in my constituency and in the

2:19:222:19:29

constituency of my honourable friend

swear we were promised 13 Type 26

2:19:292:19:34

Global it so. Forgive us if we don't

believe the promises of this

2:19:342:19:37

government.

What I will never

forgive is an SNP politician who

2:19:372:19:42

sits in this house and has the

opportunity to question ministers at

2:19:422:19:45

any time, and decides to put out a

press release launching another

2:19:452:19:50

scare story about the future of a

Moray base. We are preparing for

2:19:502:19:55

this record investment Poseidon

aircraft at Lossiemouth. I'm sorry

2:19:552:20:00

the honourable member chose to do

that.

It would appear that the

2:20:002:20:06

measured tone of this debate is

slightly moved away from where it

2:20:062:20:12

was before. In a spirit of

reconciliation, can I invite the

2:20:122:20:16

SNP, if they have legitimate

questions, on procurement issues,

2:20:162:20:20

that they ride to myself and I would

be delighted to give an answer,

2:20:202:20:23

rather than the need to go through

their local press.

I'm grateful to

2:20:232:20:28

the Minister. I would have liked it

if they had gone through their own

2:20:282:20:33

local press rather than mine. I also

want to mention, and I hope we don't

2:20:332:20:37

get too far away from consensual

again, but the tax. Apart --

2:20:372:20:43

approximately 10,000 military

personnel are based in Scotland than

2:20:432:20:45

4000 civilian employees. They work

for the Ministry of Defence in

2:20:452:20:51

Scotland. On the SNP plans to make

Scotland... With everyone earning

2:20:512:20:57

more than £24,000, they will pay

more tax. I have been contacted by a

2:20:572:21:02

number of constituents about this. I

will give way.

I'm glad this is the

2:21:022:21:09

consensual point of his speech! He

will acknowledge the new tax

2:21:092:21:18

powers... While his government

freezes pay which, because of

2:21:182:21:23

inflation, is in effect a pay cut.

Look at your figures before you

2:21:232:21:29

expand on this.

No denial from the

SNP that they are making Scotland

2:21:292:21:34

the highest taxed part of the United

Kingdom. A number of my constituents

2:21:342:21:38

are contacting us, I gassed at these

plans by the SNP that will see them

2:21:382:21:43

pay more tax than other parts of the

United Kingdom. If the Conservatives

2:21:432:21:51

are so wrong that this, maybe the

honourable members opposite are also

2:21:512:21:55

in disagreement with the Scottish

Chamber of Commerce, who said this

2:21:552:21:58

is a disincentive to investment.

That is a policy they should look at

2:21:582:22:03

and consider before implementing

later this year. I hope the

2:22:032:22:06

Minister, when he summed up in this

debate, will urge SNP politicians in

2:22:062:22:10

this place to encourage the SNP

administration not to go ahead with

2:22:102:22:16

the nap tax. And if they do, will

the Minister look at options for

2:22:162:22:20

supporting personnel based in

Scotland who will be faced with

2:22:202:22:24

these higher taxes? I also said I

want to look at other aspects rather

2:22:242:22:32

than just the bases we have. They

are an integral part of our

2:22:322:22:43

community, the armed personnel. They

are involved in all aspects of

2:22:432:22:48

working committees. A lot of spouses

of military personnel 's work in

2:22:482:22:52

schools and local hospitals and are

vital to ensure these local services

2:22:522:22:55

remain open. It is estimated that

30% of all school pupils in Moray

2:22:552:23:01

have a military connection. If I can

very briefly say, today is the 11th

2:23:012:23:12

of January. That means in the Julian

calendar it is the new year. Along

2:23:122:23:19

with local people in Birkhead,

military personnel from Kinross and

2:23:192:23:22

Lossiemouth will be taking part in a

ceremony today, where a barrel of

2:23:222:23:27

burning tar is put on the King's bar

-- back and takes it to the hilt. I

2:23:272:23:34

would try to get it mentioned on the

11th of January. I have managed to

2:23:342:23:38

get it mentioned in this debate

also. I will find out... It is

2:23:382:23:47

another example of how our military

families get involved with very

2:23:472:23:51

traditional local things such as

this and I think it is to be

2:23:512:23:56

welcomed. I would also like to say

that our military families play a

2:23:562:24:02

crucial role across Scotland and the

United Kingdom. There has been

2:24:022:24:07

rightly much talk today about the

government ensuring that the

2:24:072:24:09

investment continues. I would like

to see that. We are seeing

2:24:092:24:15

investment in Scotland. We are

seeing it in Moray. We are greatly

2:24:152:24:20

appreciative of this money and

investment going into Moray. We will

2:24:202:24:23

be serving our local area very well

and the country very well. I look

2:24:232:24:27

forward to the rest of this debate

so we can continue that contribution

2:24:272:24:32

in Moray and across the rest of the

United Kingdom.

2:24:322:24:38

Can I congratulate my good and

honourable friend, the member for

2:24:382:24:41

Gedling, on securing a debate of

such a vitally important topic to

2:24:412:24:46

Mac after his tour de force and that

of other colleagues across the

2:24:462:24:49

house, I'm sure there is little more

to say. But since when has that ever

2:24:492:24:54

stopped any of us. No one in this

house would challenge the fact our

2:24:542:24:59

armed Forces are truly the best in

the world. There are skills and

2:24:592:25:04

professionalism are second to none.

On a daily basis we were security to

2:25:042:25:07

service. Yet a good look at the

decisions this government has taken

2:25:072:25:14

and conclude that our Armed Forces

are being welled supporter. But de

2:25:142:25:18

France family is getting the

investment and consistency of

2:25:182:25:22

message it needs, or that our

current sovereign capabilities are

2:25:222:25:25

being protected. Colleagues have and

will articulate the holes in the

2:25:252:25:32

defence budget. The fact that 2%

needs to be a minimum not a target

2:25:322:25:36

and that it should not be an either

or when considering expenditure on

2:25:362:25:43

conventional forces versus tackling

the ever emerging threat of cyber

2:25:432:25:47

warfare and international terrorism.

I wholeheartedly agree. But I do not

2:25:472:25:52

intend to use my time today to speak

up for the status quo. I am

2:25:522:25:57

concerned there is limited strategic

consideration from this government

2:25:572:26:00

about what we need and why. That is

what I plan on discussing today. Our

2:26:002:26:07

world is changing beyond all

recognition. And we must be prepared

2:26:072:26:10

to change with it. We face new

pressures are renewed threats and

2:26:102:26:16

unprecedented challenges, whether

from a -- whether from Russia, a

2:26:162:26:22

volatile North Korea or the ever

present threat of international

2:26:222:26:24

terror networks. The global order is

entering a period of rapid and

2:26:242:26:29

unpredictable change. This requires

a more flexible but genuinely

2:26:292:26:34

strategic approach from central

government. Something that can only

2:26:342:26:39

happen if we ask the right questions

in the right order. In my humble

2:26:392:26:42

opinion, not so humble many people

say, before we start talking about

2:26:422:26:50

cuts and capabilities, it is vital

to agree what we are trying to

2:26:502:26:54

achieve. We need to discuss our

place in the world. What threat does

2:26:542:26:58

that mean we then face? Based on

those threats, what capabilities do

2:26:582:27:04

we need? And then and only then, how

much money do we need to deliver

2:27:042:27:07

them? Let's start with our place in

the world. Much has been made of the

2:27:072:27:14

Prime Minister's statement that

Brexit means Brexit. I have raised

2:27:142:27:18

this today because I'm increasingly

convinced that fur from being a

2:27:182:27:21

sound bite to keep the government's

cards close to its chest, this

2:27:212:27:27

statement represents the sum total

and some focus of this government's

2:27:272:27:30

vision for our place in the world.

This is the question we need to

2:27:302:27:36

answer if we are going to develop a

coherent defence strategy for the

2:27:362:27:41

21st century. The EU referendum

should have been and now must be the

2:27:412:27:45

start of a meaningful conversation

about what our country's future will

2:27:452:27:48

look like outside the European

Union. Brexit must not mean we

2:27:482:27:54

abandon our allies, neglect our

commitment turn away from the wider

2:27:542:27:57

world. It does require us to think

again about the role we are going to

2:27:572:28:01

play in the future. Britain has

always punched above her weight on

2:28:012:28:04

the world stage. And the day our

soft power is extended through our

2:28:042:28:10

unique international position. We

are a nation that has never shirk

2:28:102:28:14

their responsibilities on the world

stage a step back from our duty to

2:28:142:28:17

defend friends and allies. We have

made mistakes and have sometimes

2:28:172:28:21

been faced with the consequences of

our actions, or indeed most

2:28:212:28:25

recently, the consequences of

inaction. Yet for all of this I

2:28:252:28:30

would content it is not just in our

own interest, but in the interest of

2:28:302:28:35

global stability, that Britain

continues to exercise our power on

2:28:352:28:38

the world stage, and to play our

part in tackling the security

2:28:382:28:41

challenges that we and our allies

face. I am proudly a member of an

2:28:412:28:47

internationalist party, so walking

away from the world is simply not an

2:28:472:28:50

option for us. But retaining our

place in the world not only costs

2:28:502:28:55

money, it also determines what

capabilities we need to tackle

2:28:552:28:57

emerging threats. This of course is

a defence debate rather than one

2:28:572:29:03

focused on foreign affairs, but I

think that we can all agree that an

2:29:032:29:08

emboldened Putin, an erratic

president in the White House, the

2:29:082:29:11

increased use of cyber terrorism

from too many actors to count, the

2:29:112:29:14

ongoing instability in the Middle

East, and increasing volatile

2:29:142:29:20

position of North Korea, the

challenging environment in the South

2:29:202:29:24

China Sea, pose genuine threats for

the United Kingdom. This is in

2:29:242:29:28

addition to the continued threat of

international terrorism, which

2:29:282:29:31

touched too many other families last

year. We must remember that not all

2:29:312:29:37

challenges that we face are coming

from the aggression of nation state

2:29:372:29:40

or ideological opponents. Climate

change and national disasters also

2:29:402:29:43

have huge destructive capacity and

it is frequently our Armed Forces

2:29:432:29:49

who have been the first to be

deployed to offer aid and

2:29:492:29:52

assistance, as we saw saw recently

with Hurricane Irma. So what do we

2:29:522:29:57

need to have to be able to respond

to this level of threat? Our

2:29:572:30:02

capabilities are currently

incredibly flexible. I am concerned

2:30:022:30:07

about what we could be about to lose

both in terms of our military and

2:30:072:30:11

their domestic skills base, both of

which ensure our security in the

2:30:112:30:16

future. Keeping us and our allies

saving on -- in this uncertain

2:30:162:30:21

environment, requires a military

that is flexible, highly trained and

2:30:212:30:24

capable of deploying quickly in a

diverse range of scenarios and

2:30:242:30:28

climates. It also requires the right

number of people, Madame Deputy

2:30:282:30:33

Speaker. Thankfully, we start from a

position of strength. We used to be

2:30:332:30:37

stronger, however. We have some of

the most effective and well trained

2:30:372:30:41

personnel in the world and the

ability to deploy them currently

2:30:412:30:44

quickly by land, sea or air. Yet

these advantages are at risk of

2:30:442:30:49

being undermined by the government's

current approach to national

2:30:492:30:53

security under the National security

and capability review, or cuts

2:30:532:30:57

programme, as we should call it.

2:30:572:31:03

I thank the honourable member for

her eloquent speech. Though she

2:31:032:31:07

agree with me that the capabilities

review has nothing to do with

2:31:072:31:11

strategy or looking at the role of

our Armed Forces and their role in

2:31:112:31:14

the world, but just a last-ditch

attempt to get to grips with years

2:31:142:31:18

of spending mistakes and indecision?

Thank you very much, I couldn't

2:31:182:31:23

agree more with my honourable

friend. At this point, the review

2:31:232:31:27

seems to equate to little more than

a campaign of cuts and reductions so

2:31:272:31:33

severe that it is causing concern

not just within our Armed Forces but

2:31:332:31:37

within our allies. Discussions of

our capability review are raised

2:31:372:31:42

regularly by some of our closest

allies, and perhaps the most

2:31:422:31:46

egregious example of this is the

reported plans as I been mentioned

2:31:462:31:52

to decimate our amphibious

capability and cuts up to 1000 Royal

2:31:522:31:55

Marines. I have seen first hand

their extraordinary courage,

2:31:552:32:00

ability, focus and fortitude. I am a

fan, I have to say. Following his

2:32:002:32:06

photo opportunity this week, I hope

the Secretary of State has come away

2:32:062:32:09

from his time and glimpsed in with a

fresh appreciation of what the Royal

2:32:092:32:13

Marines bring to the table, and

maybe he will use them more

2:32:132:32:18

effectively going forward. Likewise,

I will happily give way.

I just want

2:32:182:32:22

to put on record how much I

appreciate her chairmanship of the

2:32:222:32:28

Royal Navy and Royal Marines

section, I would like to thank for

2:32:282:32:33

it. .

You make me blush! Thank you

very much. Actually, one of the

2:32:332:32:46

things that is so important and

demonstrated here today is the role

2:32:462:32:50

of the Armed Forces Parliamentary

scheme, it informs all of us and

2:32:502:32:56

ensures that the standard of debate

is as high as it possibly can be.

2:32:562:33:03

Proposals to cuts HMS Albion and

Bulwark could cause tremendous harm

2:33:032:33:10

to adaptability and deployment of

Armed Forces. Simply put, it cuts

2:33:102:33:14

our options at a time when we need

as many as possible, not fewer. We

2:33:142:33:19

will not adapt to this new world by

running down our existing

2:33:192:33:23

capabilities or undermining the very

people who are putting themselves in

2:33:232:33:26

harm's way in our defence. Let us

remember why they are there. But I

2:33:262:33:31

fear that is exactly what we are

doing, and it is no secret that the

2:33:312:33:35

MOD currently faces a £20 billion

black hole and the risk of further

2:33:352:33:40

cuts. I sincerely hope that the new

Secretary of State has made those

2:33:402:33:45

representations to the Treasury,

demanding more money from the pen

2:33:452:33:49

pusher is who worry about their air

conditioning, my favourite quote of

2:33:492:33:52

the day. And it is my very real fear

that if we continue down this path,

2:33:522:34:00

the Government has set, we'll find

ourselves ill-equipped to deal with

2:34:002:34:03

what the future holds. We need to

recognise that our security does not

2:34:032:34:08

just depend on service personnel,

vital though they are. We also need

2:34:082:34:13

new and advanced platforms for them

to use, and a vital aspect of this

2:34:132:34:20

is buying British so we can retain

domestic skills to design, develop

2:34:202:34:25

and produce cutting-edge defence

technology. In a post-Brexit world,

2:34:252:34:28

this is more important than ever

before, which is why I began this

2:34:282:34:34

year with a visit to BAE Systems in

my constituency to meet the team

2:34:342:34:45

behind the Hawk. It was an

opportunity to speak with the wider

2:34:452:34:49

defence family, and that is who they

are - engineers, technicians,

2:34:492:34:54

manufacturers who make kit, knowing

that their neighbours, their

2:34:542:34:58

children may well end up using it to

keep them safe. They support both

2:34:582:35:02

our military and that of our allies,

and we need to recognise it.

2:35:022:35:07

Unfortunately, many of them are

currently under threat of redundancy

2:35:072:35:10

due to a lack of orders. The reality

is that the MOD needs to step up and

2:35:102:35:15

ensure that industry has a steady

drumbeat of orders so that they can

2:35:152:35:19

invest in their workforce and

emergent technologies. But

2:35:192:35:23

fundamentally my real concern today

is that the Government is only

2:35:232:35:26

focused on the cost envelope. Trying

to fill the black hole in the

2:35:262:35:31

budget, rather than investing

properly in our future, and in what

2:35:312:35:34

we need to keep us safe. I will give

way.

I am listening to what she is

2:35:342:35:43

saying around defence procurement

and the need for a regular drumbeat.

2:35:432:35:48

I sometimes wonder whether the

public understands the importance of

2:35:482:35:53

keeping the sovereign capability

embedded in those skills, because at

2:35:532:35:57

some point we could actually not be

able to call on neighbours and

2:35:572:36:00

allies to provide us with kit and

equipment - we need to always be

2:36:002:36:06

able to provide that critical

equipment ourselves.

I couldn't

2:36:062:36:11

agree for the MacBook, but this is

also about economic prosperity. 88%

2:36:112:36:15

of defence exports come from

aviation, and yet we have no

2:36:152:36:20

dedicated defence aviation

industrial strategy. We needed one

2:36:202:36:25

lasted, but we will take at this

year, please, Minister! By

2:36:252:36:30

attempting to limit our capabilities

according to budgetary constraints,

2:36:302:36:34

the Government was putting the cart

before the horse. The reality is you

2:36:342:36:37

cannot secure the defence of the

realm on the cheap. If we're serious

2:36:372:36:42

about having an Armed Forces fit for

the 21st century, we need assess

2:36:422:36:45

what threat we face, establish what

capabilities we will need to counter

2:36:452:36:52

them, and then spend accordingly,

whatever it costs. We need to stop

2:36:522:36:57

tirelessly regurgitating the line

that we are meeting our Nato target.

2:36:572:37:01

Let's be clear that 2% is not a

target, it is a minimum threshold to

2:37:012:37:06

be met. If it proves insufficient to

provide the capabilities that we

2:37:062:37:10

need, then we must be prepared to

invest further. Madam Deputy

2:37:102:37:16

Speaker, no-one can predict the

future. There will always be new

2:37:162:37:20

threats on the horizon,

unfortunately, and not all of them

2:37:202:37:23

can be foreseen, but it is the duty

of government, of this government,

2:37:232:37:27

to ensure that we are as prepared as

we can be with the capabilities we

2:37:272:37:31

need.

Thank you, Madam Deputy

Speaker, a privilege to speak in

2:37:312:37:39

what has been such a consensual

debate, and I congratulate the

2:37:392:37:42

member for securing this debate, it

is an honour to speak after the

2:37:422:37:48

member for Stoke-on-Trent North, a

vociferous supporter of the Royal

2:37:482:37:50

Navy and Royal Marines. In a

Westminster Hall debate a couple of

2:37:502:37:53

months ago, I quoted the list of

enemies of the fleet, and members

2:37:532:37:57

will forgive me for repeating it

again. In reverse order, French,

2:37:572:38:01

because with the navy it is always

the French, the enemy of the day,

2:38:012:38:05

and of course white all. This is

typical Jack humour, but there is an

2:38:052:38:11

uncomfortable grain of truth, and

for a Conservative was proud to

2:38:112:38:13

think of my party as the body of the

Armed Forces, it is rather difficult

2:38:132:38:18

to swallow. On the one hand, this

party and this government has proven

2:38:182:38:22

itself to be committed to the

defence of our nation and the

2:38:222:38:24

results and not strong, capable,

adaptable and modern armed services.

2:38:242:38:28

The UK still has the second-largest

defence budget in Nato, the largest

2:38:282:38:33

in the EU, and the fifth-largest in

the world. It is of only five

2:38:332:38:37

countries that meets the Nato base

line to spend 2% of GDP on defence,

2:38:372:38:42

which is depressing in itself, and

it is this party and this government

2:38:422:38:45

which has committed to increase

defence spending by 0.5% above

2:38:452:38:49

inflation every year until 2021,

meaning it is 31.5 billion in this

2:38:492:38:55

financial year, 36 billion next, up

to 39.7 billion in 2021. Last year

2:38:552:39:01

did see unprecedented investment in

equipment across the forces, and I

2:39:012:39:06

apologise and advise for this long

list, but it is important to

2:39:062:39:10

underline how much equipment is

being purchased and built by this

2:39:102:39:14

government. The Royal Navy so HMS

Queen Elizabeth being commissioned,

2:39:142:39:19

Prince of Wales being named, five

offshore patrol vessels, Stewart Cup

2:39:192:39:23

for the first And 26, HMS As go, and

the first of the new dreadnought

2:39:232:39:28

class ballistic missile summaries,

the Astute class programme

2:39:282:39:32

continues, and the unveiling of the

competition for the Type 31 E.

2:39:322:39:37

Warrior fighting vehicles upgraded,

Apache attack helicopters, Chinook

2:39:372:39:41

is entering service, brand-new Ajax

multirole macro armoured vehicles.

2:39:412:39:44

The RAF saw 48 F-35 aircraft, new

high altitude aircraft, surveillance

2:39:442:39:58

drones and surveillance aircraft.

But to mention that this side of the

2:39:582:40:01

house is the only one that

unreservedly, without fear or

2:40:012:40:04

favour, supports the nuclear

deterrent. Without record, as well

2:40:042:40:12

as our unparalleled investment over

the past year, I will give way.

I

2:40:122:40:16

thank you for giving way, but that

is demonstrably not true! If he had

2:40:162:40:19

been with me in the many, many

circular arguments in the Labour

2:40:192:40:25

Party over the last seven years,

rather than just popped up as a

2:40:252:40:28

constituency MP this time, he might

know better, can he correct the

2:40:282:40:33

record please come

there is a

secular argued and going on within

2:40:332:40:36

the Labour Party, they are not

united behind the idea of an

2:40:362:40:40

independent nuclear deterrent, and

maybe we should ask some of those

2:40:402:40:43

backstage at Glastonbury about the

leader of the Labour Party! Anyway,

2:40:432:40:48

without record, as well as our

unparalleled investment in the

2:40:482:40:52

defence estate, bringing a

combination suitable for 21st

2:40:522:40:55

century life, which is needed, this

side of the house and the

2:40:552:41:01

Government's commitment should be

unquestioned, but it has depressed

2:41:012:41:03

me to read stories debated in this

place and indeed heard first-hand

2:41:032:41:07

from those were still serving that

all is not as rosy on the ground as

2:41:072:41:10

we would like, that perhaps we're

not doing enough, not perhaps

2:41:102:41:13

spending enough to maintain our

dedicated Armed Forces at the level

2:41:132:41:16

they need to be in order for them to

do the jobs that we ask them to do.

2:41:162:41:20

And we cannot under estimate the

effect that continual media

2:41:202:41:24

speculation as on morale in the

ranks, especially, for example, in

2:41:242:41:27

my neighbouring constituency at RN

Condor, which perpetually has the

2:41:272:41:36

sword of Damocles... I will give

way.

Does my honourable friend agree

2:41:362:41:41

that it is the reckless

scaremongering of the Scottish

2:41:412:41:44

Government minister who wrongly

suggested that it was a foreclosure

2:41:442:41:47

only a few months ago, those brave

personnel, it puts those brave

2:41:472:41:55

personnel and their families under

undue threat, and we should not play

2:41:552:41:57

political games with them?

I

couldn't agree more with my

2:41:572:42:02

honourable friend. As I said, we

cannot underestimate the effect it

2:42:022:42:08

has on morale of people serving in

such bases, when every so often,

2:42:082:42:11

every other month, we are reading in

newspapers through ill judged

2:42:112:42:15

speculation made, in this case, by

Scottish Government ministers, and

2:42:152:42:19

the effect that it has on the bases

and their communities. I would be

2:42:192:42:24

delighted.

You mentioned a couple of

minutes ago accommodation. Would he

2:42:242:42:31

accept from me that the repairs and

maintenance service provided is

2:42:312:42:36

woeful, and that many service

personnel from across all three

2:42:362:42:40

services are very upset about it? We

need to honour our people and do

2:42:402:42:46

better, and would he agree that the

minister, who I believe has some

2:42:462:42:50

sympathy on this point, should be in

courage to hold trillion more firmly

2:42:502:42:54

to account?

I couldn't agree more

with my honourable friend, one of

2:42:542:42:58

the facts that is brought up time

and again with I speak with friends

2:42:582:43:01

serving in the Armed Forces is the

state of the accommodation and the

2:43:012:43:05

support they get from that company.

Since we came to this place in June,

2:43:052:43:12

we have heard questions surrounding

whether the UK can maintain our

2:43:122:43:15

independent amphibious capability,

we have seen element of Royal Marine

2:43:152:43:20

training cut, and even questions

over the overall number of Royal

2:43:202:43:23

Marines. Over Christmas we read

about the selling of HMS Ocean

2:43:232:43:28

barely two years after its refit,

leaving the country without a

2:43:282:43:34

battling helicopter carrier give

ability and old queen Liz and comes

2:43:342:43:36

into service in 2020. -- helicopter

carrier capability until Queen

2:43:362:43:46

Elizabeth comes into service in

2020. The trained number of soldiers

2:43:462:43:53

is already below the target, but it

transpires that the number of

2:43:532:43:58

medically unavailable troops today

in the army stands at 18,000,

2:43:582:44:02

meaning that the fit trained

strength of the army is, at present,

2:44:022:44:08

60,500, just over 60,000 soldiers

fit and able to deploy today. In the

2:44:082:44:12

navy, it is 24,000, and in the RAF

it is 25,000 out of 30,000. That

2:44:122:44:19

means that as we debate this today,

the immediately deployable strength

2:44:192:44:24

of our full-time Armed Forces sits

at 111,026, and to put that into

2:44:242:44:29

context, that is three times less

than in of people employed in

2:44:292:44:33

Britain by Tesco. On Tuesday in

Foreign Office questions, I asked

2:44:332:44:38

the Foreign Secretary about options

to intervene in Syria in 2013, which

2:44:382:44:42

I believe prolonged the conflict,

but whether you were for or against

2:44:422:44:46

intervention then, and I know there

are strongly held views are not, and

2:44:462:44:50

I respect them, the fact is that we

did have that choice. We had and

2:44:502:44:53

still have the ability to choose

whether or not to intervene because

2:44:532:44:57

of the size and capabilities of our

Armed Forces. However, there is a

2:44:572:45:02

genuine concern today at the heart

of the defence and diplomatic

2:45:022:45:08

immunity, and indeed from our

closest allies, that in the not too

2:45:082:45:11

distant future our ability to

intervene, as we did in Kosovo or

2:45:112:45:13

Sierra Leone, or support our

partners across Eastern Europe,

2:45:132:45:16

could disappear, and with it our

standing on the world stage.

2:45:162:45:19

Especially if we do lose our

amphibious capability or cut the

2:45:192:45:23

number of troops even further. This

government supports the Armed

2:45:232:45:27

Forces, and ministers are fighting

daily battles to secure the budget

2:45:272:45:30

and numbers, and the record of

increased spending and procurement

2:45:302:45:33

and improvements and accommodation

are testament to this, but difficult

2:45:332:45:36

questions must be asked regarding

recruitment and retention, about the

2:45:362:45:40

size of our defence budget, 2% of

GDP and off, I think not, and

2:45:402:45:45

whether the cost of funding the

at-sea deterrent should be met from

2:45:452:45:49

an already squeezed defence budget,

or whether, as some believe, as a

2:45:492:45:53

continuing operation it and come

directly from the Treasury, as it

2:45:532:45:56

was until 2010.

2:45:562:46:01

These are difficult questions but

they must be asked because we must

2:46:022:46:05

maintain the trust of our Armed

Forces. If we are serious about

2:46:052:46:09

being a global Britain, we must

maintain our position on the world

2:46:092:46:13

stage. We must never lose the

ability to intervene with moral

2:46:132:46:20

purpose in defending the values that

we cherish around the world when we

2:46:202:46:23

choose to do so. Only when these

questions are answered, and I know

2:46:232:46:28

they will be by this government, can

we move forward with confidence that

2:46:282:46:32

in this country we will continue to

have the finest, most adaptable and

2:46:322:46:36

best equipped Armed Forces in the

world. One we can all be truly proud

2:46:362:46:41

of.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

As many members will know, my

2:46:412:46:48

husband served as a Royal Naval

officer for 17 years. As a result of

2:46:482:46:54

that I want to speak almost

exclusively about the impact that

2:46:542:46:59

serious budget cuts have on

personnel. It is often said in the

2:46:592:47:04

military that of the most important

part of a weapons system is the

2:47:042:47:08

human being. If the human being is

not maintained with due care and

2:47:082:47:14

attention, as other parts of the

weapons system are maintained, the

2:47:142:47:19

government are undermining the

fundamental principles of our Armed

2:47:192:47:21

Forces. Defending our nations,

promoting democracy and protecting

2:47:212:47:26

human rights. The men and women who

serve in the Armed Forces are used

2:47:262:47:33

to the armed -- warm words of this

government. Unfortunately, pledges

2:47:332:47:37

of support ring hollow when the

everyday reality of forces life has

2:47:372:47:42

been made far more difficult by

chronic underinvestment and

2:47:422:47:44

cost-cutting. If the human being is

to continue to be the most important

2:47:442:47:51

part of our weapons system,

personnel must be central to any

2:47:512:47:58

Central -- defence strategy.

Unfortunately, there appeared to be

2:47:582:48:00

an afterthought. If we consider the

journey of a typical Stoler --

2:48:002:48:06

Solder throughout their career,

there are a number of of areas that

2:48:062:48:11

must be improved. Starting with

recruitment, which should play an

2:48:112:48:14

important role in defence strategy.

We see this has been outsourced to a

2:48:142:48:20

private company, R. Leaving aside

the fact that the £44 million

2:48:202:48:29

annually they are creaming off to

perform this service, why are we

2:48:292:48:33

relying on a third party, possibly

with no knowledge of service life,

2:48:332:48:37

to secure those who will defend our

nation 's? Instead of wasting

2:48:372:48:41

millions on a failing contract with

Capita, the government should invest

2:48:412:48:46

in a fair pay rise for personnel. In

response to a written question in

2:48:462:48:52

October 2017, it was revealed the

government had increased spend on

2:48:522:48:57

recruitment advertising by nearly

50% and yet army numbers have

2:48:572:49:02

continued to fall. Once the recruits

join up, they are faced with housing

2:49:022:49:10

conditions. I know a number of

members have mentioned this, housing

2:49:102:49:13

conditions which in a number of

instances have been described as

2:49:132:49:17

squalid. Military personnel may

accept this as just part of the job.

2:49:172:49:24

But what about when families and

children are involved. --?

2:49:242:49:30

Relationships are already put under

huge strain by service life. But the

2:49:302:49:33

additional pressure poorer housing

put on relationships is immense. How

2:49:332:49:39

can children study when there is no

Internet, when the central heating

2:49:392:49:43

boiler doesn't work? We continue to

refer to our service personnel as

2:49:432:49:52

brave and their families continue to

be lauded. I'm sure they do not feel

2:49:522:49:57

the same way. Then there comes a

time to take some well deserved

2:49:572:50:01

leave, leave to which they are fully

entitled. In the submarine service

2:50:012:50:07

were my husband served, five days

leave used to mean heading off on a

2:50:072:50:12

Friday afternoon or early evening,

and not returning until a week on

2:50:122:50:19

Monday. They had a full week and two

weekends at home. Now a far more

2:50:192:50:24

common situation is for five days

leave to start on a Monday morning,

2:50:242:50:29

with submariners expected to be back

in post on Friday night. How is this

2:50:292:50:36

sustainable and how can

relationships survive such neglect?

2:50:362:50:41

These submariners are not central to

any defence thinking. Worse still,

2:50:412:50:48

the reality is for a sum that they

are unable to take their leave at

2:50:482:50:52

all because of personnel shortages,

or part of their leave has to be

2:50:522:50:58

spent doing mandatory training, such

as health and safety, or equality

2:50:582:51:04

and diversity. Nobody would argue

this training has to take place and

2:51:042:51:08

in isolation nobody would object.

But when back from operations,

2:51:082:51:13

personnel need to fit in this

mandatory training, operational

2:51:132:51:16

training and leave. This has

happened slowly over a period of

2:51:162:51:22

time and now is simply accepted as

the reality. However, when the

2:51:222:51:27

operational stretch is such that the

only time training can take place is

2:51:272:51:31

during leave, I would question once

again whether personnel are really

2:51:312:51:36

central to defence thinking. And

then to talk again about the

2:51:362:51:43

children, children who can have a

variety of educational experience.

2:51:432:51:49

Families often move with the unit.

The solution presented is to send

2:51:492:51:53

the children to boarding school.

When I was faced with this

2:51:532:51:57

possibility for my son, we took the

decision to remain in Glasgow, me in

2:51:572:52:03

my job and my son in the local

comprehensive school. However, for

2:52:032:52:10

many their educational experience is

disjointed. This results in poor

2:52:102:52:17

outcomes and the children's

potential, Surrey, the children's

2:52:172:52:21

attainment not always matching their

potential. If personnel are central

2:52:212:52:29

to defence thinking, we must think

more creatively. We need to think

2:52:292:52:32

about things like distance between

family home and bases and how we

2:52:322:52:37

ensure educational continuity.

Equipment has been mentioned by a

2:52:372:52:43

number of members. I am actually

going to move on from that for the

2:52:432:52:47

purposes of time. I will move on to

veterans. We celebrate their service

2:52:472:52:55

and we thank them for their

sacrifice. But in many cases,

2:52:552:52:59

unfortunately, we then leave them to

get on with it. There are fabulous

2:52:592:53:07

veterans organisations but these

veterans organisations are

2:53:072:53:10

scrabbling about refunding, funding

that should be coming from

2:53:102:53:12

government. Organisations such as

Combat Stress are dealing with the

2:53:122:53:18

most psychologically damaged

veterans. And centres such as the

2:53:182:53:23

coming home centre in my honourable

friend's constituency of Glasgow

2:53:232:53:28

South West, these centres are

providing a vital lifeline to our

2:53:282:53:35

veterans, but they are struggling to

keep in the black because of cuts

2:53:352:53:40

and because of lack of funding. Are

these veterans central to our

2:53:402:53:46

defence thinking? All these

personnel issues are compounded by

2:53:462:53:54

chronic disinvestment. It is made

infuriating by the voiceless nurse

2:53:542:53:57

of the personnel. If I can talk for

a moment about the Netherlands, they

2:53:572:54:05

have for trade unions that represent

the Armed Forces. These trade unions

2:54:052:54:12

are able to act as a go-between, a

liaison between government and the

2:54:122:54:16

Armed Forces. Morale is so high and

conditions are so good in the

2:54:162:54:23

Netherlands, that we have to put in

special measures to encourage

2:54:232:54:29

personnel to retire at 855 in order

to make for young recruits. --

2:54:292:54:36

retire at 85 -- retire at aged 55.

We need to give a voice to our armed

2:54:362:54:45

Forces. A representative body that

would liaise directly with

2:54:452:54:48

government and would ensure

personnel are central to defence

2:54:482:54:51

thinking. Ultimately, chronic

disinvestment must be addressed. Our

2:54:512:54:58

most important weapons system must

be maintained, not neglected. And I

2:54:582:55:04

will finish by quoting, like my

friend, the member for West

2:55:042:55:13

Dunbartonshire, from general Sir

Richard Barron 's, who gave evidence

2:55:132:55:16

to the select committee in November.

The people who are in defence, they

2:55:162:55:19

have to keep going every day. So

they are never going to say publicly

2:55:192:55:25

or to themselves, or to their

enemies, or to their allies, that we

2:55:252:55:30

are broken. But when they fly, sale

or deploy on the land, and they look

2:55:302:55:38

at their equipment, they look at

their sustainability, their

2:55:382:55:42

shortfalls in their training, and

they look at their allies, they know

2:55:422:55:46

they are not fit for purpose.

It is a great pleasure to follow the

2:55:462:55:58

honourable member for Glasgow North

and to take part in this debate. I

2:55:582:56:01

would like to pay tribute to my

honourable friend, the member of the

2:56:012:56:05

Gedling, for his outstanding

wide-ranging speech at the start of

2:56:052:56:10

this debate and how it set the tone

for this debate, or most of us. The

2:56:102:56:24

comment from my honourable friend,

the member for Bridgend, spoke of

2:56:242:56:29

the Armed Forces as being

fundamentally about skilled

2:56:292:56:33

individuals. I think the phrase she

used was the people with the

2:56:332:56:37

expertise. I'm not that surprised,

the history of North Wales being as

2:56:372:56:44

it is, with the number of current

members of the Armed Forces whom

2:56:442:56:49

I've met. One thing that does

surprise me is the number of former

2:56:492:56:52

members of the Armed Forces whom

I've met who have reasons for no

2:56:522:56:59

longer being in the Armed Forces.

There are quite diverse. I hope that

2:56:592:57:03

as we have this debate that we

listen to those voices from the

2:57:032:57:10

Armed Forces and former members of

the Armed Forces in doing so. As I

2:57:102:57:14

speak today, I would like to quote

from my constituent, Alex. Alex is a

2:57:142:57:20

former member of the Armed Forces,

who has years of experience serving

2:57:202:57:26

in the Royal Navy. Preparing as I

was for this debate, Alex did rather

2:57:262:57:34

a good, rather a lot of work in

preparing with me, having spoken to

2:57:342:57:39

a number of his colleagues who still

served in the Royal Navy. And these

2:57:392:57:44

are the points that Alex and his

colleagues have raised. I would like

2:57:442:57:48

to raise them directly with this

house and with the minister today.

2:57:482:57:54

HMS Northumberland is currently in

the final stages of a multi-million

2:57:542:57:57

pound service. As is typical of our

refits, upgrades to weapons systems

2:57:572:58:05

use the bulk of the available

budget. The budget are so

2:58:052:58:09

constrained that a lot of

engineering defects are largely

2:58:092:58:12

ignored, purely due to a lack of

funding. The four main diesel

2:58:122:58:18

engines used to power and drive

these ships have major issues

2:58:182:58:23

remaining extant, and the

switchboard is used for main power

2:58:232:58:26

distribution also have major issues,

due to a lack of funding there is no

2:58:262:58:32

repair plan in place for these

problems. Issues are also going on

2:58:322:58:37

with water plants used for air

conditioning and to cool the weapons

2:58:372:58:41

control systems. These engineering

issues in Northumberland were

2:58:412:58:46

typical of type 23 frigates

throughout my career in the Navy. In

2:58:462:58:55

this situation arose were despite my

warnings when serving as the diesel

2:58:552:58:59

maintainer on one back in 2011, we

suffered simultaneous and

2:58:592:59:03

catastrophic failure is onto a road

diesel engines, leaving our ships

2:59:032:59:09

stranded alongside a waiting double

engine change at huge cost. Moving

2:59:092:59:17

on to manpower issues, which were

also raised, my constituent

2:59:172:59:23

writes... The Navy haemorrhaged

personal between 2010 and 2013 with

2:59:232:59:30

redundancies. Marine engineers in

particular where hit quite hard. One

2:59:302:59:34

of the main drawbacks was a lack of

ability to compete with their higher

2:59:342:59:40

paying private sector. This loss in

engineers left others overworked and

2:59:402:59:47

feeling underpaid compared to

civilian counterparts. This was a

2:59:472:59:50

key reason from the leading

ultimately. I had more than five

2:59:502:59:55

months of leave to take that had

accumulated over several years of

2:59:552:59:57

cancelled leave periods due to

engineering defects and trials. This

2:59:573:00:04

lack of manpower has now spread to

weapons engineers and communications

3:00:043:00:07

ratings. These people are amongst

the most capable and highly trained

3:00:073:00:14

engineers on the planet. And the MOD

has no real plan for retention and

3:00:143:00:19

no ability to compete with private

employers. I also know that due to

3:00:193:00:25

start -- staff shortages, people not

ready for promotion are sometimes

3:00:253:00:29

been promoted to fill gaps in senior

positions. These positions come with

3:00:293:00:34

great responsibility and it is not

fair on them to be put into that

3:00:343:00:39

position without sufficient

experience. Speaking of Manning

3:00:393:00:46

shortages, HMS Portland has been sat

alongside Devonport since March with

3:00:463:00:51

a locked gate on her gangway as they

cannot stop the ship. It has

3:00:513:00:55

occasionally been used for minor

training exercises, then we'll be

3:00:553:00:59

going into refit early next year. If

Manning is not sorted, when she

3:00:593:01:03

comes back into service, personnel

may be needed to pass from other

3:01:033:01:09

ships causing shortages elsewhere

and further compounding the effect

3:01:093:01:12

of engineers missing out on leave.

3:01:123:01:21

These issues are causing other

issues, my constituent writes. There

3:01:213:01:26

are rumours of two type 23s and both

LPDs being scrapped and the fabled

3:01:263:01:36

type 26 may not see service for

another decade. Of the 13 type 23s

3:01:363:01:43

currently in service there are four

in re pet -- refit. Of the remaining

3:01:433:01:51

eight at least two are running

around the UK on reduced manpower.

3:01:513:01:55

That leaves six destroyers and six

frigates out to meet our outstanding

3:01:553:02:00

Nato commitments across the globe

providing no destroyers are

3:02:003:02:04

currently in refit. It will be no

surprise we do not have a UK

3:02:043:02:10

presence on Nato deployments as we

have a fleet of maybe 12 active

3:02:103:02:15

surface warships. My constituent

says, I was chuckling with my

3:02:153:02:19

friends that fleet is the wrong word

and in reality the Royal Navy makes

3:02:193:02:24

up barely a squadron. I am struck as

well with the comment as my

3:02:243:02:30

constituent Alex came to the end of

what he had written to me and he

3:02:303:02:34

said this: This is not a concise

appraisal of the struggles of the

3:02:343:02:38

Royal Navy and certainly more issues

are ongoing, but these are the

3:02:383:02:42

issues I know about quite

confidently. I have worked across

3:02:423:02:45

the globe as an engineer since

leaving the service and I can say

3:02:453:02:50

quite categorically that our service

men and women are amongst the most

3:02:503:02:54

capable and expertly skilled

engineers on the planet. This means

3:02:543:02:58

that sadly they are being let down

by ever tightening shoestring budget

3:02:583:03:03

and facing annual below inflation

pay increases, although this year

3:03:033:03:06

they will not have a below inflation

increase as they have been told not

3:03:063:03:10

to expect an increase at all. I know

tabloids have said the sensational

3:03:103:03:15

before but I do not feel it has ever

been truer than today. Our armed

3:03:153:03:21

Forces are at absolute crisis point,

our equipment is overused and under

3:03:213:03:26

maintained and so are our service

men and women. The government needs

3:03:263:03:30

pressing on this and holding to

account for the seven years of decay

3:03:303:03:34

they have inflicted. I very much

hope the government will be held to

3:03:343:03:39

account today and the minister will

respond to the points made.

Chris

3:03:393:03:43

deepens.

Can I start by joining

others and thanking the honourable

3:03:433:03:50

member for Devlin in this debate. I

found out a couple of minutes ago

3:03:503:03:54

that he was not a right honourable

member but I am sure that will be

3:03:543:03:58

rectified in good time. But he is

quite correct in his speech. He

3:03:583:04:05

struck a chord with me when he

talked about the economic benefits

3:04:053:04:08

to the country in terms of

maintaining defence spending and I

3:04:083:04:15

will spend the last part of my

contribution on that particularly in

3:04:153:04:19

relation to shipbuilding strategy. I

have a great family history in terms

3:04:193:04:26

of many family members who have

served in the Armed Forces and when

3:04:263:04:30

it comes to defence spending this

year in my constituency the company

3:04:303:04:36

Tallis celebrated the centenary as I

noted that it provided visual

3:04:363:04:43

assistance equipment for submarines

and telescopes and it has done it

3:04:433:04:49

for 100 years. That resonates with

me because when they were trading as

3:04:493:04:56

Baron Stroud that is when my

grandfather and grandmother met and

3:04:563:05:00

fell in love and ended up 61.5 years

married. They were very keen

3:05:003:05:08

supporters of the Scottish National

Party and if it was not for them I

3:05:083:05:11

would not be here today. I would

like to thank my honourable friend

3:05:113:05:15

for mentioning the Coming Home

Centre. They provide 1000 hot meals

3:05:153:05:24

a month to veterans in the city of

Glasgow and they do fantastic work

3:05:243:05:29

and I certainly am always keen to

help them and I am a regular visitor

3:05:293:05:35

to that centre and I am keen to help

with their funding. The honourable

3:05:353:05:42

member for North Wiltshire made a

very important point in this debate

3:05:423:05:45

which has been backed up by other

members. That is that the government

3:05:453:05:50

should be giving more time when it

comes to discussing defence matters.

3:05:503:05:54

For example, the Parker report on

shipbuilding was published on the

3:05:543:06:00

3rd of November in 2016. The first

opportunity members of the House got

3:06:003:06:05

to debate that particular report was

the 8th of February 2017 because my

3:06:053:06:13

honourable friend for Dunfermline

and West Fife secured a debate.

3:06:133:06:17

Likewise, when it comes to the

national shipbuilding strategy, the

3:06:173:06:21

ministerial statement from the

former Secretary of State for

3:06:213:06:26

Defence, and that was a presentation

of a dog's breakfast, that we have

3:06:263:06:29

not had the opportunity to debate

that despite the efforts of many of

3:06:293:06:34

us in the all-party Parliamentary

group on shipbuilding who are always

3:06:343:06:38

applying for debates to debate the

national shipbuilding strategy. This

3:06:383:06:42

is an opportunity for members like

myself and others to debate that

3:06:423:06:45

actual strategy. I think for me the

national shipbuilding strategy has

3:06:453:06:52

flaws which I think should be

explored by honourable members

3:06:523:06:56

across the House so we can debate

them to see if we can put them

3:06:563:07:00

right. The very real fear we have,

Madame Deputy Speaker, is the

3:07:003:07:05

national shipbuilding strategy is

going back to 1980s thinking were

3:07:053:07:09

shipyard should be in competition

with each other. That has only ever

3:07:093:07:14

lead to ship yard closing.

Competition has not led to

3:07:143:07:23

recruiting, it has led to higher

costs and it has led to famous

3:07:233:07:27

shipyards like Swan Hunter's no

longer being around and trading. We

3:07:273:07:31

really need to look at and go back

to the concept before the national

3:07:313:07:38

shipbuilding strategy of whether we

have specialist shipyards building

3:07:383:07:42

complex naval warships, which was

the position of the former Labour

3:07:423:07:46

government, when they decided the

centre of excellence for building

3:07:463:07:50

complex naval warships was on the

Clyde. I am always grateful to the

3:07:503:07:56

workforce at Govan on the Clyde and

in particular the trade union

3:07:563:08:02

representatives who do a magnificent

job representing their members in

3:08:023:08:07

the shipbuilding industry. The other

flaw of course in the national

3:08:073:08:14

shipbuilding strategy is the

nonsensical position I think where

3:08:143:08:15

they actually have ignored John

Parker's recommendations to build

3:08:153:08:21

Royal Fleet auxiliary ships and send

that I to international competition.

3:08:213:08:26

We have just completed the process

where the aircraft carrier Alliance

3:08:263:08:32

was block built across shipyards in

the UK. If it was good enough for

3:08:323:08:38

the aircraft carrier Alliance,

surely it is good enough for the

3:08:383:08:42

Royal Fleet auxiliary ships. I do

not believe that sending Royal Fleet

3:08:423:08:45

auxiliary ships will save the

Ministry of Defence money, in fact

3:08:453:08:50

far from it. The government would

make more savings if they built them

3:08:503:08:54

in the United Kingdom and they would

do that simply by the fact that the

3:08:543:08:58

workers who were building those

ships would be paying income tax

3:08:583:09:02

which would be going into the

government coffers. There are no

3:09:023:09:05

savings at all with sending Royal

Fleet auxiliary ships to

3:09:053:09:09

international competition. I hope

the new ministerial team at the MoD

3:09:093:09:13

have a serious look at that issue

because these ships should be built

3:09:133:09:18

in the United Kingdom. The

honourable member for Gedling

3:09:183:09:23

mentioned price tags and for me his

speech resonated with me when it

3:09:233:09:28

comes to the general purpose

freights. There is a flip side to

3:09:283:09:32

the coin. I get the very real

impression that the price tag that

3:09:323:09:39

has been checked for the

general-purpose frigate is actually

3:09:393:09:43

determining the capabilities of that

frigate. We have yet to discover

3:09:433:09:51

either in debate or in Parliamentary

questions what is the capability of

3:09:513:09:56

this general-purpose frigate? It

seems to me it is a downsize from

3:09:563:09:59

the type 26 frigate, three of which

are contracted to be built in my

3:09:593:10:05

constituency. But what is the role,

purpose and function of the

3:10:053:10:09

general-purpose frigate as it

applies to the Royal Navy? We do not

3:10:093:10:12

yet know.

I am sorry to interrupts,

but it is such an important point

3:10:123:10:19

about capability. If you do not know

the price and you have got an

3:10:193:10:23

equipment plan, an equipment budget

projected out over the next number

3:10:233:10:27

of years, it must be uncertain

point. If the price goes up, the

3:10:273:10:34

only way you can pay for it is

cutting the else and it is

3:10:343:10:38

ridiculous.

I fully agree with that

point. It was a defence analysis who

3:10:383:10:47

said that if anyone believes he can

build a general-purpose frigate for

3:10:473:10:52

£250 million, they are guilty of a

conspiracy of optimism. There is no

3:10:523:10:56

defence expert who thinks that is an

appropriate price to build a

3:10:563:11:00

general-purpose frigate.

To provide

a bit of clarity on this because it

3:11:003:11:06

is important. This part of our

shipbuilding strategy, yes, there is

3:11:063:11:11

a tentative price tag of 250

million, but each ship will be

3:11:113:11:16

tailor-made for the order that we

actually get. The number of orders

3:11:163:11:20

we get, the more we get, the unit

cost of the individual ships will go

3:11:203:11:25

down. Of course there are ways of

criticising this, but if they have

3:11:253:11:29

another strategy, please put forward

what they suggest. I make it clear

3:11:293:11:43

this is an advance way of what we

are doing to utilise our friendships

3:11:463:11:48

across the world to provide a

capable ship that can be utilised in

3:11:483:11:51

a number of capabilities depending

on what the individual order will

3:11:513:11:53

actually be.

I thank the Minister

because he is being constructive.

3:11:533:11:55

But there was a promise of 13 type

26 frigate is to be built and that

3:11:553:11:59

was cut to eight and five

general-purpose frigates, the

3:11:593:12:03

purpose of which we do not yet know.

He mentions orders. It seems to me

3:12:033:12:10

the argument is these

general-purpose frigates could be

3:12:103:12:13

exported, but who to? If we do not

know the purpose and role and

3:12:133:12:17

function, why would anyone buy it

anywhere else in the world? I hope

3:12:173:12:22

when he is summing up he may want to

consider those particular issues.

3:12:223:12:30

The last issue I would want to raise

is the government have a role to

3:12:303:12:34

play when it comes to shipyard

investment. The Ministry of Defence

3:12:343:12:39

has said not just on the Clyde, but

about other shipyards about being

3:12:393:12:45

more efficient and if they want to

be more efficient, that means a very

3:12:453:12:50

real investment in shipyard

reconstruction and construction. The

3:12:503:12:58

former Secretary of State, when he

gave his statement on the national

3:12:583:13:01

shipbuilding strategy, insisted

there was a frigate factory on the

3:13:013:13:05

Clyde. At the same time he was at

the dispatch box saying this,

3:13:053:13:09

representatives of the GMB trade

union were taking journalists around

3:13:093:13:14

the Clyde, showing them the sight of

where this proposed frigate factory

3:13:143:13:18

was supposed to be built and it was

rubble and ash. We need to get this

3:13:183:13:22

right. I support the construction of

a frigate factory, but it will need

3:13:223:13:30

investment and the MoD has a real

role to play in providing the

3:13:303:13:34

Finance and the money for that. If

they are insisting shipyards should

3:13:343:13:38

be more efficient and they should

reconstruct, they have a role to

3:13:383:13:41

play in that and I hope they will

consider investing in shipyard

3:13:413:13:45

construction. Thank you very much.

Can I first to congratulate my

3:13:453:13:52

honourable friend, the member for

Gedling, on securing this debate. I

3:13:523:13:57

rise to speak not only for the Armed

Forces in Plymouth but those around

3:13:573:14:01

the world who deserve our thanks and

respect for all the work they do. It

3:14:013:14:05

is worth noting it is not those

people who served in uniform that we

3:14:053:14:09

should be thanking, but all those

civilian defence workers who support

3:14:093:14:14

our Armed Forces in such a good job,

the engineers, designers, tradesmen,

3:14:143:14:21

technicians and those in the entire

supply chain of the defence family

3:14:213:14:24

as it has been referred to. Plymouth

is entwined with this debate, not

3:14:243:14:29

only as a defence city, but because

of HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark and it

3:14:293:14:36

is at the heart of this debate about

defence spending. A strong defence

3:14:363:14:41

is worth fighting for and that is

something that has been shared by

3:14:413:14:44

members on both sides of this house.

I think the defence communities have

3:14:443:14:49

had enough of the talk of cuts.

Plymouth certainly has. They want to

3:14:493:14:55

see a strategy laid out where we can

proudly top up our Armed Forces with

3:14:553:15:00

a firm plan about how we will

provide them with the equipment they

3:15:003:15:03

need, the training they need, and

the support they need after their

3:15:033:15:07

time in uniform has come to an end.

That should be our collective

3:15:073:15:11

ambition but we are far too far away

from that at the moment. I would

3:15:113:15:16

also like to praise the work of all

those people who have come to the

3:15:163:15:21

defence of HMS Albion and HMS

Bulwark and the Royal Marines.

3:15:213:15:25

Plymouth is the centre of the

universe and in this defence debate

3:15:253:15:28

it has certainly felt that way and

right across the country and our

3:15:283:15:34

allies across the board house spoken

about the world-class role that

3:15:343:15:38

Albion and bulwark provide and of

the world-class crew that serve on

3:15:383:15:41

those ships and the people in

support. I would also like to pay

3:15:413:15:46

tribute to the Plymouth Herald

supporting the campaign which has

3:15:463:15:50

enabled people in Plymouth to add

their voices to support our brave

3:15:503:15:54

and men and women who serve in the

Royal Marines and on Albion and

3:15:543:16:00

bulwark.

3:16:003:16:07

The context has changed. Russia is

something that we should be aware.

3:16:073:16:15

The weaponisation of migration in

particular is something we should

3:16:153:16:18

all realise is a deliberate tactic

that the Kremlin is deploying. Their

3:16:183:16:23

use of cyber to intimidate not only

ourselves, but our allies, is a

3:16:233:16:27

growing threat. And their threat to

the northern flank has been detailed

3:16:273:16:31

by the chair of the select

committee, is something we should

3:16:313:16:35

take seriously. Their threat to the

Baltic states is something we should

3:16:353:16:39

also know about. I did a quick test

around the

3:16:393:16:51

Baltic states, asking people to name

them from north to south. I have to

3:16:573:17:00

say, I am concerned. If it is as

critical to the defence of our Nato

3:17:003:17:03

and EU allies that we understand why

they are important, we should first

3:17:033:17:05

be able to name them on a map.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania but then

3:17:053:17:08

purportedly you have calendar

grabbed which is a Russian enclave

3:17:083:17:10

in the heart of Europe. -- Cullen

grabbed. I think we need to invest

3:17:103:17:16

more in cyber and intelligence. That

should not be at the expense of

3:17:163:17:19

conventional forces. We need to

invest not only in our quick Matt

3:17:193:17:25

but in our personnel. I know with

conversations in pubs with service

3:17:253:17:32

people who are off duty, morale is

very low. There is the uncertainty

3:17:323:17:39

about their role in the world. Key

to our Armed Forces is their ability

3:17:393:17:43

to get on and do. They do not

question, they just deliver. It is

3:17:433:17:48

up to us in this place to make sure

we do our bit to make sure they have

3:17:483:17:54

the resources and back-up that they

need and I think there is more to be

3:17:543:17:57

done there. I was grateful yesterday

for the Armed Forces Minister to

3:17:573:18:02

meet me to talk about a sporting

frigates. The case for the new ones

3:18:023:18:11

is a good decision but I would

encourage Mr 's to set out a

3:18:113:18:17

timetable for when the base porting

ones will be made. Devonport has a

3:18:173:18:25

25 year order book in terms of our

dockyard for maintenance but less so

3:18:253:18:30

for our naval base. In my maiden

speech I made the case for the type

3:18:303:18:36

26s to be based ported in Plymouth.

At that time I was expecting 13 type

3:18:363:18:41

26s as has been mentioned by

colleagues from the SNP. We now

3:18:413:18:45

expect only a them and the 31s. I am

concerned about the debate around

3:18:453:18:51

the tight 31s, because we must have

confidence in these warships and the

3:18:513:18:56

crews to assure that when they serve

around the world, that they are

3:18:563:19:00

respected. I say to the minister,

the debate around the tight 31

3:19:003:19:05

frigate I think could be resolved

simply if ministers renamed it from

3:19:053:19:10

a frigate to a Corvette. The type 26

frigate will be world class and

3:19:103:19:15

world beating. Let's not spend our

time in this place is talking down

3:19:153:19:19

the 31. We should have 13 type 26s

but for various reasons we are not.

3:19:193:19:26

So let's have five world-class

corvettes, not cheap frigates. That

3:19:263:19:31

will do us no favours or the Royal

Navy no favours and I also ask the

3:19:313:19:41

Minister in his concluding remarks

to provide some clarity on what is

3:19:413:19:43

happening with HMS Ocean. Having

returned from excellent work in the

3:19:433:19:47

Caribbean to supporting hurricane

hit communities, to hear from the

3:19:473:19:53

Brazilian government that they had

purchased HMS Ocean, thought like a

3:19:533:19:57

kick in the teeth with the people

closely associated with this expert

3:19:573:20:02

and world class ship. I would be

grateful of the Minister could

3:20:023:20:05

provide clarity on what is happening

to her. I mentioned at the start of

3:20:053:20:11

my remarks about Albion and Bulwark.

Limit as a centre was made clear by

3:20:113:20:16

ministers. -- Plymouth. That means

not only maintaining the Royal

3:20:163:20:23

Marines in Plymouth after the

closure of their barracks, it is

3:20:233:20:28

about ensuring we have amphibious

ships which are capable. The Bay

3:20:283:20:33

class ships are excellent but they

cannot replace the others. Losing

3:20:333:20:43

HMS Ocean cannot be replaced by the

Prince of Wales. We know we have

3:20:433:20:47

capabilities cut already but we need

to make sure that in providing a

3:20:473:20:52

world-class centre we retain Albion

and Bulwark and the Royal Marines. I

3:20:523:20:58

am pleased that there is cross-party

support for the retention of the

3:20:583:21:03

Royal Marines and the amphibious

warships and I know ministers have

3:21:033:21:05

listened carefully to this. I know

there are a lot of people on both

3:21:053:21:09

sides of the House who want to join

you in any contest you have with the

3:21:093:21:14

Treasury to make sure you get the

resources that you need to provide

3:21:143:21:16

for our Armed Forces. However, on

four occasions to date since being

3:21:163:21:24

elected, I have asked ministers to

rule out cuts to Albion and Bulwark,

3:21:243:21:28

but I have been told it is simply

speculation and it is an true. I

3:21:283:21:35

asked the minister now to give some

certainty to the people who serve on

3:21:353:21:39

those ships and rule that the cuts

once and for all. That would also

3:21:393:21:42

mean ruling out cuts to the Royal

Marines. Plymouth already saw 300

3:21:423:21:49

Royal Marines lost before the

general election so we have recent

3:21:493:21:52

history of knowing that cuts to

Royal Marines to happen. They are a

3:21:523:21:56

vital pipeline for our special

forces. Of the 6500 Royal Marines,

3:21:563:22:01

40% of our special forces are drawn

from the Royal Marines and they are

3:22:013:22:06

pipeline we need to preserve. I

would also like to raise the issue

3:22:063:22:10

of submarine recycling. We have

spoken about the importance of not

3:22:103:22:14

only our hunter killers but our

ballistic missile submarines. I

3:22:143:22:17

would like to raise the issue of the

19 decommissioned de fuelled

3:22:173:22:21

submarines which are lying at rest

at Devonport and Rosyth. Sovereign,

3:22:213:22:32

superb, Trafalgar, sceptre and

others are waiting for recycling.

3:22:323:22:38

The demonstration project I believe

is paused at the moment. We need a

3:22:383:22:44

long-term solution so we can safely

dispose of our nuclear legacy,

3:22:443:22:48

ensuring that when you submarines

are brought on board, as a nation,

3:22:483:22:52

we deal with the legacy to make sure

the people of Plymouth and the

3:22:523:22:56

people of Rosyth do not have to have

an uncertain indeterminate legacy in

3:22:563:23:01

their dockyard that we do not know

what will happen to them in the

3:23:013:23:06

future. I say to ministers this is a

topic that is being raised on the

3:23:063:23:09

doors implement, and although it

only affects two places across the

3:23:093:23:13

country, it should affect all of us

and how we deal responsibly with the

3:23:133:23:17

legacy of our Armed Forces. The

remarks from the member for Glasgow

3:23:173:23:21

South West about the shipbuilding

strategy are clear and I agree with

3:23:213:23:24

all of them. It is important that we

have a key investment in our

3:23:243:23:27

shipbuilding strategy and I must say

the idea of building the solid-state

3:23:273:23:32

support ships abroad is something

3:23:323:23:43

that we have a house should be

firmly opposed to. The tonnage of

3:23:453:23:48

those ships with equal those of the

carrier programme and we have

3:23:483:23:50

demonstrated that the carrier

Alliance works and as the ships may

3:23:503:23:52

not be armed but will be carrying

munitions, there is the ability for

3:23:523:23:55

the Government to determine that

there should be attended to provide

3:23:553:23:57

the long-term contract to a UK firm.

I thank the honourable gentleman for

3:23:573:24:06

giving way. If these ships are

procured internationally this will

3:24:063:24:11

have severe consequences for the

shipbuilding industry in the United

3:24:113:24:15

Kingdom?

I think that is right. The

protection of our sovereign defence

3:24:153:24:20

credibility must be preserved, not

only in naval matters but as has

3:24:203:24:23

been raised by my honourable friend

from Stoke-on-Trent, for the air

3:24:233:24:29

force as well. We need to protect

jobs in the UK, there vital high

3:24:293:24:35

school jobs that will preserve us

with our unique role in the future.

3:24:353:24:40

-- high skill jobs. I want to be

clear that this debate was too

3:24:403:24:44

important to be missed. I would like

to have seen more members here and I

3:24:443:24:48

would encourage the Minister to

follow the suggestion from the

3:24:483:24:52

member for North Yorkshire and hold

debates in government time. It is

3:24:523:24:55

not only those people who have

served and have a military

3:24:553:24:59

establishment in their constituency

to voice their view on this, but we

3:24:593:25:03

have the whole House understanding

just how important defence is to the

3:25:033:25:07

realm, just how precarious the

international situation is at the

3:25:073:25:10

moment, and how vital it is whether

you are a Labour MP, SNP or

3:25:103:25:15

Conservative member of Parliament,

we speak with one voice in backing

3:25:153:25:18

our troops, backing the people

3:25:183:25:29

who work and we may even include the

Liberal Democrats! We speak with one

3:25:303:25:33

voice as a House, in support of our

Armed Forces. We need a long-term

3:25:333:25:36

plan with long-term funding so we

can provide clarity that the

3:25:363:25:38

civilians and veterans need.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. It

3:25:383:25:44

is always a pleasure to speak in

this House but on defence issues, it

3:25:443:25:50

is something I'm particularly

interested in. Can I first four

3:25:503:25:54

thank the members begging for

bringing forward this motion and for

3:25:543:25:59

the fixing and detailed and

informative way that he led the case

3:25:593:26:02

and a very balanced way -- the

member for Gedling. I never doubted

3:26:023:26:12

for a second that the interest would

be enormous and it is. Can I also

3:26:123:26:17

thank the Right Honourable and

honourable members who have spoken.

3:26:173:26:20

Some of those members who have

served in the Armed Forces as well.

3:26:203:26:25

Can I just say to the chair of the

Defence Select Committee, we're

3:26:253:26:28

always pleased in this House to

listen to his words of wisdom which

3:26:283:26:31

he gives us with knowledge

expertise, and we are very grateful

3:26:313:26:36

to have that knowledge explained to

us today as well. The gallant

3:26:363:26:40

members who have served in uniform,

and I looked at the minister by the

3:26:403:26:44

way, and hopefully he went mind me

saying this, Minister, we're

3:26:443:26:48

immensely impressed by you, the fact

that you have served in uniform, and

3:26:483:26:53

also we have not forgotten the

occasion last year when your

3:26:533:26:57

particular qualities shone out and I

know it is something that I think

3:26:573:27:00

about often and I know many others

in this House think about the same

3:27:003:27:03

thing so thank you and I put that on

record. I hope the message is coming

3:27:033:27:09

through from all the members here, I

will say it again, we want to

3:27:093:27:14

strength in your hands when it comes

to going to the Chancellor to get

3:27:143:27:18

the money is that you need to spend

and the MOD and to strengthen you

3:27:183:27:23

when you do those things as well.

Can I just declare an interest, as a

3:27:233:27:29

former member of the Ulster Defence

Regiment, I served for three years

3:27:293:27:34

and then 11.5 years in the Royal

Artillery which I served as a

3:27:343:27:40

part-time soldier. I'm very pleased

that I had that opportunity. It was

3:27:403:27:44

good to have that opportunity and

experience to do that. I just want

3:27:443:27:48

to say first of all, let me begin by

paying tribute to our current

3:27:483:27:54

serving Armed Forces personnel, to

their families and veterans. Theirs

3:27:543:27:57

is the ultimate form of service and

all too often sacrifice. The words

3:27:573:28:02

that adorn the Tomb of the Unknown

Warrior in Westminster Abbey Summit

3:28:023:28:06

up perfectly and I want to put it on

record: man can give life itself for

3:28:063:28:11

God, for King and country, for loved

ones home and empire, for the sacred

3:28:113:28:16

cause of justice and freedom of the

world. They buried him amongst the

3:28:163:28:21

kings because he had done good, the

words of God and this House.

3:28:213:28:28

Madam Deputy Speaker, this is a

critical time to have this debate.

3:28:283:28:32

Guardians of the decision to go to

war need to take time to consider

3:28:323:28:40

policies and ensure the Armed Forces

are fit to fight and can be the best

3:28:403:28:43

in these dangerous times. Can I also

pay tribute to my honourable friend

3:28:433:28:49

who served in the Defence Select

Committee, he makes a massive

3:28:493:28:55

difference and could not be here

because of constituency duties back

3:28:553:28:58

home. Speaking on behalf of the

Democratic Unionist Party, I am

3:28:583:29:02

happy to add my support to this

debate. It is an inescapable

3:29:023:29:08

conclusion that our Armed Forces

have been into my since 1979, we

3:29:083:29:13

cannot deny that. I said there have

been dividends which have been taken

3:29:133:29:18

since the end of the Cold War, the

eventual end of the Troubles and the

3:29:183:29:24

introduction of new technologies.

However, it is wrong to think that

3:29:243:29:29

current threats across the world or

of any less magnitude and

3:29:293:29:32

consequence to our defence and

security that we faced in Berlin, or

3:29:323:29:37

in Belfast in the 70s and 80s. I

would very gently remind the

3:29:373:29:42

Secretary of State who is not here,

that the majority of ministers since

3:29:423:29:51

1979 have acquiesced in the decline

of our Armed Forces, holding out on

3:29:513:29:56

manpower and resources. The minister

needs to bring that the climb to a

3:29:563:30:00

halt and we want to strengthen his

hand to make that happen. And the

3:30:003:30:04

colleagues who have given gallant

service in uniform, and of whom we

3:30:043:30:09

in this House are rightly proud,

must begin the process of rebuilding

3:30:093:30:13

our defence and security capacity,

for the role we must play in the

3:30:133:30:18

world and European affairs post

Brexit. We need Armed Forces ready

3:30:183:30:22

to deal with the challenges of the

21st century, not to engage in soft

3:30:223:30:29

diplomacy and shadow-boxing. In

November 2018 we will pause and

3:30:293:30:35

reflect on the centenary of the

First World War. The war that we

3:30:353:30:38

were told in the history books that

was to end all wars. But 100 years

3:30:383:30:44

on we have had more than that. We

know all too well what happened to

3:30:443:30:50

the British expeditionary Force in

the first 100 days of World War I.

3:30:503:30:54

Defeat followed by retreat and then

entrenchment. Madam Deputy Speaker,

3:30:543:30:58

we did not learn. In 1938 we had

once more hollowed out our Armed

3:30:583:31:04

Forces, and ignored the threat of an

expansionist enemy. There was the

3:31:043:31:12

Dunkirk evacuation followed by five

years of hard-won battles and

3:31:123:31:15

losses. We are at grave risk of

having the same conditions again, of

3:31:153:31:24

ignoring threats from all around us,

on the sea, on the surface, on land,

3:31:243:31:29

abroad and in cyberspace. Dissident

republicans, Russians and Isis,

3:31:293:31:37

Iranians, North Koreans, home-based

cyber terrorists, all present us

3:31:373:31:41

with a problem. At the time we

continue to... Sometimes we really

3:31:413:31:52

ask questions and we should ask

questions about defence reviews

3:31:523:31:56

which are nothing more than

budgetary exercises where we suspend

3:31:563:32:00

reality, forget the past, ignore the

present and then the future to

3:32:003:32:05

reverse engineer the military. The

warning signs are all around us. We

3:32:053:32:15

have aircraft carriers with no

aircraft, helicopters sold off

3:32:153:32:18

before they can be replaced, a fleet

which cannot be fully manned, Royal

3:32:183:32:25

Marines without the basic capability

to get to shore. Contrast that with

3:32:253:32:29

the task force we sent to recapture

the Falkland Islands in 1982. Could

3:32:293:32:34

the Secretary of State of any

insurance that we could emulate that

3:32:343:32:38

today -- any assurance. I would say

it is much more difficult. The army

3:32:383:32:43

grows smaller and smaller by the

week. Recruiting targets are not

3:32:433:32:46

met. Fleets cut to the core, housing

in disrepair. I have been very

3:32:463:33:00

focused on the army and we have had

the chance to speak to the Army

3:33:003:33:04

personnel and the officers and

families and we are well aware of

3:33:043:33:09

those problems. The honourable

member for Wiltshire is not here, it

3:33:093:33:16

was for many of us to participate in

that scheme and learn more and be

3:33:163:33:21

knowledgeable in this House.

Training areas have been closed or

3:33:213:33:26

restricted, long promised an

experiment still in the test tube. I

3:33:263:33:31

have the good news to state and I

cannot say much more than very

3:33:313:33:37

generically, but I understand that

the Government and the rest of

3:33:373:33:39

defence have come back to confirm

they will increase the number of

3:33:393:33:43

reserves in Northern Ireland. We are

at a capacity of 85%. We want to

3:33:433:33:47

grow and we have asked for that and

the Government have responded. There

3:33:473:33:51

will be some capital spending as

well which I understand is coming

3:33:513:33:54

through and we welcome that.

3:33:543:34:04

The honourable gentleman referred to

branding on TV and the hard-won

3:34:043:34:10

ethos and politically correct sound

bites. He stated there is 25% less

3:34:103:34:18

of the traditional cohort that they

can draw upon. The Army is 33%

3:34:183:34:24

smaller. We fall below that target

as well. We need an army that is

3:34:243:34:29

able to engage with and defeat the

enemy with bayonets or bare hands if

3:34:293:34:34

it needs be. It is horrible to

betray and an awful thing to

3:34:343:34:42

imagine, but that is the enduring

reality of what we are asking our

3:34:423:34:45

young men and women on the front

line to do. I am serving on the

3:34:453:34:52

Armed Forces Parliamentary scheme to

the RAF this year and we get to know

3:34:523:34:55

those things and we talked to the

officers and the personnel and we

3:34:553:34:59

see the realities of it. We have

chronic underfunding and

3:34:593:35:02

undermining. The tornadoes have had

more upgrades and extensions than

3:35:023:35:09

most. This is not the answer to the

multirole, multi-platform challenge

3:35:093:35:15

it needs to meet and is overmatched

by aircraft from potential

3:35:153:35:19

aggressors. The fighter programme

will be challenged to meet this gap

3:35:193:35:24

and I fear we will never again, I

hope I am wrong, to come to the

3:35:243:35:30

Battle of Britain spirit that comes

to us in our darkest hours. The

3:35:303:35:37

opportunity to intervene and address

the situation has not passed us by

3:35:373:35:41

yet and this debate is a step on the

way to doing that to strengthen the

3:35:413:35:46

Minster's hand and to strengthen the

Secretary of State's hand to make

3:35:463:35:50

sure that the Chancellor can find

that pot of gold at the end of the

3:35:503:35:54

rainbow or whatever it might be to

make sure we can fill that gap. The

3:35:543:35:59

UK will take its place on the global

stage stepping out from the shadow

3:35:593:36:03

of the European promise of security

and defence policy. We need to make

3:36:033:36:07

it clear in a broad statement of

intent about who we are and what we

3:36:073:36:12

stand for. We need to invest in our

Armed Forces and put money where our

3:36:123:36:16

mouths are and step up to the plate

as the second senior partner in Nato

3:36:163:36:20

and give that lead to other members

who draw their inspiration from us.

3:36:203:36:34

Yes, health and welfare remainders

nation's priority and they should

3:36:353:36:37

and spending priorities reflect

that. However, for too long defence

3:36:373:36:39

has been playing second fiddle to

other departments. Or if you come

3:36:393:36:42

from Northern Ireland we have been

playing the third flute and we do

3:36:423:36:44

not want to be the third flute in

this house when it comes to defence.

3:36:443:36:47

We want to be more than that and we

respectfully look to the Minister to

3:36:473:36:52

ensure that the third flute is not

where we are. The House will cease

3:36:523:36:58

to be supine in matters of defence

and security spending. We cannot

3:36:583:37:03

continue to ask government to

degrade our Armed Forces whilst we

3:37:033:37:08

turn a blind eye. We have become

overreliant on the world heading in

3:37:083:37:18

this direction. Can I plug a book if

I can for those of you who are

3:37:183:37:22

readers. Make it your business to

read this. It is written by a friend

3:37:223:37:28

of ours, Kingsley Donaldson, and it

is called 2020 worded war. That will

3:37:283:37:34

give you an idea from an

experienced, knowledgeable point of

3:37:343:37:38

view where we are with defence. A

simple case in point, in 1979 there

3:37:383:37:47

were thousands of men and women

serving full-time and part-time in

3:37:473:37:51

Northern Ireland in the Ulster

Defence Regiment which I served in

3:37:513:37:54

as well. Jeffrey Donaldson, the

member for Lagan Valley, said we

3:37:543:38:02

will never be able to recover the

capability. I would question if the

3:38:023:38:06

defence and the Home Office have

anything like the capability to deal

3:38:063:38:10

with the terrorism of the scale we

lived in through the trouble. We are

3:38:103:38:19

very aware of this as well, my

connections from Northern Ireland

3:38:193:38:26

and knowledge from Northern Ireland

in terms of regular recruiting

3:38:263:38:31

refurnished two armoured regiments

and six regular army units, Navy

3:38:313:38:42

ships and stations, as well as air

stations in four places as well as

3:38:423:38:51

thousands of service men and women

across the Army, Navy and air force.

3:38:513:38:56

We provided thousands of reserves to

the Army, Navy and air force and we

3:38:563:38:59

have got two Territorial Army 's and

an RUC Regiment and signals

3:38:593:39:06

Regiment, transport units, a Royal

Naval reserve and the RAF auxiliary

3:39:063:39:11

units. There are many talented young

men and women in Northern Ireland of

3:39:113:39:17

all ethnic diversity is, of social

backgrounds, who would make

3:39:173:39:21

excellent recruits to our Armed

Forces. I am the spokesperson for

3:39:213:39:24

the cadets, the reserve forces

cadets organisations in Northern

3:39:243:39:30

Ireland and I commend the Minister

and his department for the work they

3:39:303:39:33

are doing with the cadets. We are

growing the cadets in all capacities

3:39:333:39:38

across the communities in Northern

Ireland and that is an indication of

3:39:383:39:42

where Northern Ireland can go more

if we get the opportunity to do so.

3:39:423:39:50

It is not meant to be one up and

ship, but educated in Northern

3:39:503:39:57

Ireland is better than in other

places. I welcomed the statement by

3:39:573:40:06

the Minister which I mentioned

earlier on. Wellington, one of the

3:40:063:40:10

many famous Irish soldiers commented

that more than a third of his army

3:40:103:40:14

at Waterloo were Irish. Four of the

nine armies at the Somme were from

3:40:143:40:23

the 36th Ulster division. There are

many notable Ulster connections.

3:40:233:40:36

Churchill said of Field Marshal Alan

Brooke when I peered across the

3:40:363:40:44

table and pushed my face across to

him, what did he do? He pushed the

3:40:443:40:49

table back and stared back at me.

They asked if they were stiff next

3:40:493:41:00

and Ulstermen. We do not take being

told off too easily, put it that

3:41:003:41:04

way. Churchill was a national hero,

does the Minister and his colleagues

3:41:043:41:10

need to get on the front foot

starting with defence and invest in

3:41:103:41:14

a rich source of fighting spirit and

dogged determination and moral

3:41:143:41:19

courage and feel is this? These are

the characteristics that our Armed

3:41:193:41:23

Forces have that we need whether

they be fighting floods or defeating

3:41:233:41:30

Isis or keeping our independent

territories save, policing the seas

3:41:303:41:33

and skies or just supporting our

allies' efforts? I am very conscious

3:41:333:41:38

of the time. I have just realised, I

apologise for that, but I want very

3:41:383:41:45

quickly to commend those who work in

my area. I do a coffee morning once

3:41:453:41:53

a year and we have raised about

£30,000 over the last few years and

3:41:533:41:57

we have done very well. They also

work with combat stress as well. We

3:41:573:42:07

reach out to those people. Any point

in the recent past since 1979 our

3:42:073:42:16

Armed Forces are in a perilous state

and we must stop that rot. Standing

3:42:163:42:22

still is not an option. I understand

that the Minister, and I understand

3:42:223:42:27

very well that he wants to see the

spend increasing as well, and we are

3:42:273:42:32

behind you in ensuring that happens.

It is time to place greater

3:42:323:42:37

importance on the assets that are at

the core of the values in our

3:42:373:42:45

nation. We need to ensure funding

programmes to match our ambitions

3:42:453:42:51

post Brexit. To do otherwise is to

leave it vulnerable to enemies,

3:42:513:42:57

never mind assisting our friends and

allies. We would not be fully able

3:42:573:43:04

to answer to our responsibilities to

Nato and the UN. Thank you for your

3:43:043:43:08

indulgence.

Thank you, Madam Deputy

Speaker. I suspect you may agree,

3:43:083:43:16

although would never be gracious

enough to say it, but sometimes

3:43:163:43:20

debates in this place can go on a

bit. But this has been a genuinely

3:43:203:43:28

informative and at times inspiring

series of contributions. It has been

3:43:283:43:35

a real pleasure to sit through and

listen to the debate almost in its

3:43:353:43:40

entirety. I would also say that for

me perhaps one or two others, we may

3:43:403:43:50

not have the privilege of winding up

any debate any time soon from the

3:43:503:43:54

front bench, so it is a privilege to

be the last speaker from the

3:43:543:44:01

backbenches for this debate. There

has been an awful lot said. Sorry.

3:44:013:44:12

Almost.

There is still one

honourable member to come. I have

3:44:123:44:22

not forgotten him.

John Wilcock. How

could you ever forget him? I am

3:44:223:44:29

terribly sorry to my honourable

friend, I had not seen him back

3:44:293:44:32

there. Let me add a few thoughts in

the realms of the threat we face,

3:44:323:44:40

the budget constraints and personnel

issues to the many cogent points

3:44:403:44:49

that have already been made in this

debate. First of all, it is truly

3:44:493:44:53

extraordinary that we are in a

position as a country where the

3:44:533:45:03

Ministry of Defence is locked in a

battle with the Treasury and we are

3:45:033:45:05

talking about desperately trying to

save absolutely vital capabilities

3:45:053:45:15

like our amphibious capabilities,

like the size of the Armed Forces

3:45:153:45:17

and so many others. We are scrapping

to merely maintain things at the

3:45:173:45:23

existing level when we have heard so

much, and it is so obvious, that the

3:45:233:45:28

threats we are facing are expanding

and expanding to the point... It has

3:45:283:45:35

been mentioned many times in this

debate today, it is not spoken about

3:45:353:45:38

nearly enough that the scale of the

threat that the expansionist regime

3:45:383:45:46

led by President Putin is posing. It

is not spoken about nearly enough

3:45:463:45:50

that we have a European nation of

which part has been annexed by

3:45:503:45:57

another European nation for the

first time since the Second World

3:45:573:46:01

War. That has almost fallen off the

public and political agendas and yet

3:46:013:46:07

it has happened and it will happen

again unless countries like the UK

3:46:073:46:11

can wake up to the scale of the

threat that we face. The potential,

3:46:113:46:20

mortal danger for the values we all

hold dear which we, in an active and

3:46:203:46:27

terrible complacency, seem to

believe that we have settle for good

3:46:273:46:32

in the post-Cold War consensus, but

which now are being eroded. But yet

3:46:323:46:38

even now we are not prepared to

understand the scale of the peril

3:46:383:46:45

which they are in. We have the

expansionist Russia, we have the

3:46:453:46:54

same potential similarly mortal

threat to our country and our values

3:46:543:46:57

from the evil ideology whose latest

in capsule Asian was in Daesh.

3:46:573:47:10

Although that group is crumbling, it

will certainly resurface in other

3:47:103:47:17

forms. Part of the investment this

country makes will extend far beyond

3:47:173:47:21

the Ministry of Defence's

capabilities in being able to combat

3:47:213:47:25

that. Yet we have seen the capacity

for that ideology to cohere itself

3:47:253:47:34

around a capability which can take a

state for a certain amount of time.

3:47:343:47:39

If we look just beyond Daesh's first

foothold in Iraq, we see in Syria

3:47:393:47:49

the way in which our complacency

both on tackling Daesh and the

3:47:493:47:58

perversion of Islamism it represents

has mingled with our complacency

3:47:583:48:01

over the threat posed by Russia and

has gravely damaged, as has been

3:48:013:48:10

well articulated just this week not

only today but by the honourable

3:48:103:48:13

members opposite in Prime Minister's

questions this week, which has

3:48:133:48:18

gravely diminished our standing in

the UK and has raised a real

3:48:183:48:26

question over not only our

capability to intervene if we wish,

3:48:263:48:29

but also over our willingness ever

to do so despite the fact that our

3:48:293:48:37

values are at threat.

3:48:373:48:45

We have those two weaknesses coming

together epitomised in Syria. We

3:48:453:48:49

have a European Union which we do

not know what its future will be

3:48:493:48:56

after the UK leaves, but for which

the UK has drawn a red line over

3:48:563:49:05

future areas of cooperation so we

must stand rightly with our own

3:49:053:49:10

capability outside of the EU. We

have America which is retreating

3:49:103:49:16

into itself, which aside from the

monstrosities of the President

3:49:163:49:22

Trump's regime, we simply cannot

reliable come to the aid of our

3:49:223:49:27

values here in Europe.

I did really like President Trump

3:49:273:49:37

any more than my honourable friend,

it is an administration not a

3:49:373:49:41

regime. Cuba is a regime. Russia is

a regime because their democracy is

3:49:413:49:46

questionable. The American

administration, I know we don't like

3:49:463:49:49

it, some of us don't, it is and

administration are not a regime,

3:49:493:49:55

sorry.

It is and let's hope this is

a one-off, but as has been a point,

3:49:553:50:02

I can't remember who made it before,

there has been a real question over

3:50:023:50:05

the enduring willingness of the US

to engage across the world before

3:50:053:50:13

this, and the fact that we can have

a President Trump shows that our

3:50:133:50:20

placement reliance on the Americans

must go forever, even if, God

3:50:203:50:28

willing, we get someone who we can

actually trust with the nuclear

3:50:283:50:32

button in the future. So in that, we

have this budget process where we

3:50:323:50:39

have, or we are pleading for even

current levels of defence spending

3:50:393:50:46

to be maintained. The one thing that

I will say more on that, is this has

3:50:463:50:54

been mentioned by a number of

people, and in fact it is the first

3:50:543:50:58

time that I can recall agreeing

substantially, but with the Scottish

3:50:583:51:03

National Party on an issue, I am

sorry to break that to them! It must

3:51:033:51:13

be the case now that the Government

acts to take the dreadnought

3:51:133:51:19

programme out of the Ministry of

Defence's budget, and deals with it

3:51:193:51:23

by the Treasury reserve. I was

privileged to be part of for a

3:51:233:51:34

number of years, as an adviser to

the last Labour government, and I

3:51:343:51:39

remember quite clearly the agreement

that the then Defence Secretary, now

3:51:393:51:44

Lord Hutton, reached with the then

Chancellor now Lord Darling, Richard

3:51:443:51:49

over restoring what had historically

been the position that the nuclear

3:51:493:51:53

deterrent would be treated outside

of the Ministry of Defence's budget.

3:51:533:52:00

And it was a grave act of

complacency by this government

3:52:003:52:04

coming in in 2010, to rip up that

agreement, and just in refreshing

3:52:043:52:11

myself about what happened then,

when I was waiting to speak here,

3:52:113:52:17

came across the way in which the

then Chancellor George Osborne

3:52:173:52:21

announced this at the time, and in

justifying this, he said all budgets

3:52:213:52:28

have pressure. I don't think there

is anything particularly unique

3:52:283:52:32

about the Ministry of Defence. Well,

absolutely, as we have heard by so

3:52:323:52:37

many speakers, the Ministry of

Defence's budget, the capabilities

3:52:373:52:40

which it is defending is unique, and

even if that complacency was

3:52:403:52:48

justifiable back then, which it

wasn't, it is deeply worrying that

3:52:483:52:53

we are now in a position where we

have another Chancellor who is

3:52:533:52:58

potentially adhering to that line of

thinking, when we have had all the

3:52:583:53:05

developments in the world since

then, which has shown actually that

3:53:053:53:10

we have not understood the level of

threat which was facing us. So just

3:53:103:53:17

in conclusion then, Madam Deputy

Speaker, let me turn to personnel,

3:53:173:53:22

but in a different sense of that

which has been spoken about by a

3:53:223:53:26

number of people.

I'm grateful to

the honourable gentleman who is

3:53:263:53:32

making some fair points, if I may

say so, but would he just accept the

3:53:323:53:36

point as well, that when considering

the total amount of money which goes

3:53:363:53:41

towards our collective national

defence, there are a number of pots

3:53:413:53:44

particularly, in so far as they

affect the intelligence services,

3:53:443:53:48

which optically important in terms

of waging war in cyberspace, which

3:53:483:53:53

are not necessarily taken account of

by the £36 billion departmental

3:53:533:53:57

defence spending Choate Limited and

that has to be taken into account

3:53:573:54:00

when looking at this in the round?

I

would be interested in discussing

3:54:003:54:04

this with him further. I am not sure

that I do accept that. The whole

3:54:043:54:09

point of this is we are talking

about very difficult decisions and I

3:54:093:54:14

don't envy the Minister's office. We

are shifting around money from an

3:54:143:54:19

overall pot which is just woefully,

woefully inadequate. So to talk

3:54:193:54:25

about personnel. First of all

locally. I was saddened to see the

3:54:253:54:33

departure from Barrow shipyard,

after only a few months in the job

3:54:333:54:37

of will Blamey. I wish him very well

and I know he has a big future

3:54:373:54:45

contribution to make and hopefully

that will be in the field of

3:54:453:54:49

strategic defence of our realm. I

welcome in Cliff Robson as the new

3:54:493:54:53

managing director. I say that not

only to get it on the record, but

3:54:533:54:58

then to make the point that the

challenges facing our submarine

3:54:583:55:04

programme must not be all put at the

door of the good men and women in

3:55:043:55:11

Barrow shipyard. That has been the

level of mismanagement of the

3:55:113:55:20

submarine programme, as part of a

suboptimal management of the entire

3:55:203:55:25

defence equipment programme, which

is potentially reaching a critical

3:55:253:55:31

point, and it would not be

acceptable, and those of us on this

3:55:313:55:34

site would not allow the Government

to get away with laying blame at the

3:55:343:55:39

door of people who are doing

extraordinary work of the realm, and

3:55:393:55:45

are currently seeking to starve our

future capability of the vital

3:55:453:55:55

equipment budget, not great at the

moment, but vital that it happens

3:55:553:56:00

now, to create future capabilities

so that we can continue in the

3:56:003:56:04

business of building submarines in

the future. But the final port of

3:56:043:56:08

personnel is relating to the

ministerial team here. I'm really

3:56:083:56:12

glad to see the minister in his

place. I am taking it from the fact

3:56:123:56:17

that he has kept his job in the

reshuffle, but he has been given the

3:56:173:56:21

assurances that the army will not

received any further and I look

3:56:213:56:26

forward to making this clear in his

winding up speech, welcoming the new

3:56:263:56:31

Minister for defence procurement who

comes in at a critically important

3:56:313:56:36

time, and there are those of us on

this side who will be a constructive

3:56:363:56:42

force I hope in helping him meet the

challenge of arguing for greater

3:56:423:56:51

reserves, resources and ensuring

that they are properly spent. But

3:56:513:56:57

let me just finish on the Secretary

of State. He is not a man I knew a

3:56:573:57:03

great deal about and I get the sense

he is not a man that many in the

3:57:033:57:08

Armed Forces knew a great deal about

before he took his job, and I am

3:57:083:57:13

looking forward to working with him

constructively on the future of the

3:57:133:57:18

submarine programme in particular.

This is a time, Madam Deputy

3:57:183:57:23

Speaker, for seriousness, for

serious people and for people who

3:57:233:57:29

are able to establish a grip over

their roles. And in various roles, I

3:57:293:57:37

have briefed a newspaper

occasionally, and ended up with a

3:57:373:57:41

story sometimes in the Sun and

sometimes in the Daily Mirror, but

3:57:413:57:46

we have looked at the way that the

Ministry of Defence has been run in

3:57:463:57:50

the last couple of months, and while

I welcome the fact that the

3:57:503:57:56

Secretary of State has apparently

intervened directly to save some

3:57:563:57:58

military dogs and is cutting down

personally on the Chancellor's

3:57:583:58:08

ability to use military flights, I

do question whether this shows that

3:58:083:58:14

he is spending sufficient time and

in ensuring that our equipment

3:58:143:58:22

programme is up to scratch, and is

doing so in a way that will be

3:58:223:58:26

effective for the nation. He has a

Windows still to prove himself, but

3:58:263:58:31

he needs to do so, I would say, in

short order. I was about to finish

3:58:313:58:39

but I will give way.

I'm very

grateful. Can I just say that I for

3:58:393:58:42

one want to give the new Secretary

of State the benefit of every

3:58:423:58:45

possible doubt, because what we need

at this moment in time, and what

3:58:453:58:49

this debate has really brought out,

is someone who will have a bare

3:58:493:58:52

knuckle fight with the Treasury to

get the money we need for defence.

3:58:523:58:55

The fact that he may not have much

of a background in defence is not

3:58:553:59:03

the main issue. The main issue is

will he fight for money for defence

3:59:033:59:06

and can he win that fight?

Does

absolutely and I suppose it remains

3:59:063:59:09

to be seen whether the tactics that

he has, he has so far adopted will

3:59:093:59:16

continue and are effective in doing

so is that we will be as supportive

3:59:163:59:21

as we can in ensuring that that is

the case. The final thing though, I

3:59:213:59:25

wish he were here that I could say

this to him in person. I don't know

3:59:253:59:29

what he's doing, what his other

commitment is that this has been a

3:59:293:59:33

really important debate. Many

important contributions have been

3:59:333:59:36

made, and he would do well to listen

to what has been said by colleagues

3:59:363:59:41

on both sides of the House in this

debate this afternoon.

Paul Sweeney.

3:59:413:59:51

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for

the opportunity to contribute to

3:59:513:59:55

this magnificent debate, which has

had a series of robust and

3:59:554:00:01

passionate contributions, not only

from my immediate predecessor who

4:00:014:00:10

spoke, from Barrow in Furness, the

fine shipbuilding town. I think it

4:00:104:00:13

is fair to say that there has been a

consensus of the source of great

4:00:134:00:17

dismay across this House that every

year of this government, we have

4:00:174:00:23

seen a heavy decline in defence

spending from 2.4% of GDP to 1.9% in

4:00:234:00:30

2016. Not only has it declined in

every year of this government, but

4:00:304:00:33

it is more than every year of the

Labour government. Those figures

4:00:334:00:38

belie the true criticality of the

situation. A letter published by

4:00:384:00:43

former defence chiefs last year

called the 2% target and accounting

4:00:434:00:48

deception and that most analysts

agree that core defence expenditure

4:00:484:00:52

is well below that 2% threshold. So

not only is real defence spending

4:00:524:00:57

well below the purported to percent

target minimum, but it's effective

4:00:574:01:02

purchasing power is being eroded

year on year, because as many

4:01:024:01:05

members will know, the defence rate

of inflation runs well above the

4:01:054:01:09

national inflation rate. In 2015-16,

the defence inflation rate was 3.9%,

4:01:094:01:15

the highest since 2010, while the

national GDP was 0.8%. So that

4:01:154:01:22

relentless pressure on defence

resources explains the litany of

4:01:224:01:25

cuts we have seen stemming from the

2010 and 2015 strategic defence and

4:01:254:01:31

Security reviews, most notably in

its absurdity, the scrapping of the

4:01:314:01:35

Nimrod programme in the months

before it entered service,

4:01:354:01:39

squandering 3.4 billion and leaving

the UK with no maritime patrol

4:01:394:01:43

aircraft for at least a decade.

4:01:434:01:49

We have seen the army cut by a

fifth, ways -- wages frozen and no

4:01:494:01:55

navy on patrol for the first time in

recorded history. It is a depressing

4:01:554:01:58

situation. We continue to see

chaotic and wrong-headed thinking on

4:01:584:02:02

procurement of defence capability

play out, most notably in the recent

4:02:024:02:08

National shipbuilding strategy.

Having had the privilege to chair a

4:02:084:02:12

meeting of the all-party in the

shipbuilding yesterday, we heard

4:02:124:02:15

testimony on the urgent need to

improve key elements of the strategy

4:02:154:02:19

to achieve the best effects for the

shipbuilding sector. There are key

4:02:194:02:24

themes emerging from this process of

discussion with key stakeholders in

4:02:244:02:28

industry and the defence community.

It must both define and outline

4:02:284:02:33

measures to safeguard key industrial

capabilities. It is breathtaking

4:02:334:02:38

that the National shipbuilding

strategy has taken no steps to

4:02:384:02:41

define the minimum sovereign

capabilities we need to sustain as a

4:02:414:02:44

nation in the shipbuilding industry,

and has taken no efforts to describe

4:02:444:02:48

how we achieve those capabilities.

It must also commit to investment to

4:02:484:02:53

ensure those capabilities, once

defined, are modernised to be world

4:02:534:02:56

class. That was the case in the

previous defence industrial strategy

4:02:564:03:01

created by Labour in 2005, which

designated that the Clyde

4:03:014:03:05

shipbuilding industry would be the

key deliverer of the nation's Comdex

4:03:054:03:10

warships, and prescribed a solution

to allow that industry to become

4:03:104:03:14

world-class by developing what was

called a frigate factory, or a

4:03:144:03:17

modern facility that would deliver

an integrated, consolidated site to

4:03:174:03:22

achieve the efficiency is to deliver

the capabilities for the Navy and

4:03:224:03:25

effective value for money cost. We

also recognise that a distributed

4:03:254:03:33

block builder strategy, as defined

by the National shipbuilding

4:03:334:03:36

strategy, is not suitable for

frigates such as certain types

4:03:364:03:40

because that would drive up unit

costs for manufacture and they would

4:03:404:03:44

be best built in a consolidated

world-class facility, where it would

4:03:444:03:48

benefit from learning curves and

integrated production. It must also

4:03:484:03:52

recognise that there is an

opportunity for that distributed

4:03:524:03:55

block builder strategy in the next

fleet of Royal auxiliary ships to be

4:03:554:03:59

procured, which have a displacement

of 40,000 tonnes, a scale suitable

4:03:594:04:06

for distributed block build

strategies, because no 1's site in

4:04:064:04:09

the UK is capable of building that

ship alone. So that is the

4:04:094:04:14

opportunity to use that strategy to

sustain shipbuilding capacity across

4:04:144:04:18

multiple sites and maintain the

resilience of the defence Supply

4:04:184:04:21

chain. That is why I would like to

insist the Minister consider

4:04:214:04:26

applying the article 346 protection

in the case of the new solid fleet

4:04:264:04:31

support ships, to ensure it is a UK

only competition to build those new

4:04:314:04:35

complex ships.

I am grateful to the

honourable gentleman forgiving way.

4:04:354:04:42

I have the same problem. Would he

agree that as well as having

4:04:424:04:47

shipbuilding as a core strategic

industry, we need to keep radar

4:04:474:04:51

capacity in my constituency and

others as well, and we need radar

4:04:514:04:56

demonstrators to make sure we

continue the development of radar in

4:04:564:04:59

this country are those ships for the

next 50 years?

Thank you for that

4:04:594:05:05

contribution. I would say that is

absolutely critical. When you think

4:05:054:05:09

of shipbuilding, then we just think

of a howl of the ship, but when you

4:05:094:05:13

see a ship launched into the water

for the first time, the value of the

4:05:134:05:17

overall project is only 8%. It looks

much more. The real value is the

4:05:174:05:23

ship as a platform from the ball

other high-value defence

4:05:234:05:25

capabilities, such as radar, a good

example, the multifunction radar

4:05:254:05:31

manufactured on the Isle of Wight,

which constitutes a large share of

4:05:314:05:35

the overall programme cost. That is

where we should have the pipeline of

4:05:354:05:39

capability, not just the front end

shipbuilding capability but also the

4:05:394:05:43

second and third tier supply chain.

Considering that capability and

4:05:434:05:47

using that opportunity to pump prime

National shipbuilding capability,

4:05:474:05:51

latest figures compiled by

Strathclyde University, shipbuilding

4:05:514:05:58

on the Clyde contributed £231

million per year to GDP in the UK,

4:05:584:06:03

but also critically generates a

multiplier of 360 flip million

4:06:034:06:07

pounds per year in addition across

the wider supply chain for defence

4:06:074:06:10

in the UK. That would include on the

Isle of Wight. That is why it is

4:06:104:06:17

such a critical opportunity, using

the National shipbuilding strategy,

4:06:174:06:20

to involve the wider supply chain to

maximise the value to the UK

4:06:204:06:23

economy. We discussed yesterday in

the all-party to, that although we

4:06:234:06:30

gave the contract for the latest

fleet support tankers to a company

4:06:304:06:35

in South Korea, the cost to build

those ships in South Korea was

4:06:354:06:39

equivalent to how much it would cost

to build in the UK, but the price

4:06:394:06:42

that the Koreans offered was

considerably lower than a UK

4:06:424:06:46

shipbuilder can offer alone. So in

effect, the Korean taxpayer was

4:06:464:06:51

subsidising the British Ministry of

Defence to build its ships. Why

4:06:514:06:54

would they do that if they did not

recognise it was an industrial

4:06:544:06:57

opportunity for them in doing so?

They would not do it out of mere

4:06:574:07:03

generosity. They are doing it

because they recognise that it is a

4:07:034:07:06

core part of their defence

industrial capability, and a key

4:07:064:07:10

part of their national industrial

strategy. Perhaps we ought to take a

4:07:104:07:14

leaf out of their book and have an

active industrial strategy when it

4:07:144:07:17

comes to defence and includes --

include those ships. We also have a

4:07:174:07:23

further issue, which is financing,

particularly of complex warships. It

4:07:234:07:29

was mentioned by a previous speaker

that the previous Chancellor of the

4:07:294:07:35

Exchequer described defence as no

different to any other government

4:07:354:07:38

department when it came to capital

expenditure. I would take issue with

4:07:384:07:41

that. Offence is unique, when it is

commissioning complex warships --

4:07:414:07:48

defence. And submarines. These

vessels constitute two of the most

4:07:484:07:56

complex engineering projects ever

built by mankind. They are huge

4:07:564:08:01

national generational programmes,

and the idea that they ought to be

4:08:014:08:06

constrained by in years spend

profiles is absurd because it

4:08:064:08:09

militates against the efficiency of

those programmes. They are not

4:08:094:08:12

managed in the same way the Olympic

Games was managed, HS2 is managed,

4:08:124:08:16

or any other large-scale

infrastructure product. They are

4:08:164:08:23

constrained by Treasury spending

limits, and that has to be

4:08:234:08:25

critically altered and changed as a

cultural thing in the UK to achieve

4:08:254:08:29

the best opportunity for defence in

future. That has to be tackled on a

4:08:294:08:33

cross-party basis. When we were

looking at innovations for the type

4:08:334:08:40

26 programme, including changing to

spray on insulation, using LEDs, and

4:08:404:08:46

all these changes in innovation were

constrained because the Ministry of

4:08:464:08:50

Defence was not willing to adapt and

innovate and apply new standards to

4:08:504:08:54

its shipbuilding programmes. The

customer is so sclerotic in its

4:08:544:09:00

approach to innovating new

programmes, that drives cost into

4:09:004:09:02

the project and militates against

innovations that would save costs in

4:09:024:09:06

the long-term. Short-term

constraints casts a huge shadow

4:09:064:09:10

through the life of the programme,

building an overall cost. That is

4:09:104:09:15

why we have often seen programmes,

originally meant to be 12 ships, cut

4:09:154:09:18

to eight, and finally ship -- six

ships built. Annual constraints on

4:09:184:09:26

spend and structural rigidity failed

to adapt as it goes forward and

4:09:264:09:29

innovate with new projects as

technology emerges. Also, it insists

4:09:294:09:34

on arbitrary competition in the

supply chain when long-standing

4:09:344:09:37

relationships can be established in

the supply chain with, for example,

4:09:374:09:42

gearbox manufacturers, ensuring

there is a commonality of approach

4:09:424:09:45

and adaptability, a long-term

relationship with suppliers to

4:09:454:09:48

enable ships to be built more

efficiently. Having a year zero

4:09:484:09:54

approach duplicates cost and adds

complexity which could be avoided.

4:09:544:09:58

These are issues we ought to change.

We have seen the bigger picture. The

4:09:584:10:02

root cause is the relentless decline

in defence spending as a share of

4:10:024:10:06

GDP. It has been mentioned that it

is halved as an overall percentage

4:10:064:10:11

of national wealth in the last two

decades since the end of the Cold

4:10:114:10:15

War. We can mitigate it in the

meantime by more efficiently

4:10:154:10:18

managing the resources we do

receive, by ensuring we effectively

4:10:184:10:23

manage the defence programme in a

more resilient way. Hopefully I have

4:10:234:10:28

presented some practical

opportunities to improve the

4:10:284:10:30

National shipbuilding strategy to in

-- to assist in ensuring a future

4:10:304:10:35

fleet of the scale that we need to

sustain British military power

4:10:354:10:39

around the world in coming decades.

I look forward to the Minister

4:10:394:10:43

offering his view on that. Thank you

very much.

Thank you, Madam Deputy

4:10:434:10:52

Speaker. This is one of the few

debates to take place in the House

4:10:524:10:56

that has been extremely well

mannered and extremely well-informed

4:10:564:10:59

by members on all sides. I cannot

obviously single out all of them,

4:10:594:11:04

but I want to mention the typically

well-informed duo that make up the

4:11:044:11:13

chairs of the all-party for the

Armed Forces, the members for

4:11:134:11:20

Stoke-on-Trent North and North

Wiltshire. Of course, the chair of

4:11:204:11:24

the Defence Select Committee gave an

incredibly thoughtful speech as

4:11:244:11:26

well. I will also, despite the brief

diminution in consensus, single out

4:11:264:11:34

the honourable member for Murray,

who spoke incredibly proudly of his

4:11:344:11:39

constituency and its long historic

connections to the Armed Forces. I

4:11:394:11:45

will be returning to the issue of

tax, which I am very pleased to do.

4:11:454:11:52

And the member for Plymouth, Sutton

and Devonport, who in the short time

4:11:524:11:54

he has been here has shown himself a

force to be reckoned with in these

4:11:544:11:59

defence debates. I even found myself

agreeing at the end of the speech by

4:11:594:12:04

the honourable member from Barrow

and Furness, possibly a first, for

4:12:044:12:08

the SNP benches, making him visibly

nervous as I finish this sentence.

4:12:084:12:13

And it is a pleasure to follow my

good friend, the honourable member

4:12:134:12:19

for Glasgow North East, and all the

excellent speeches made on the SNP

4:12:194:12:24

benches by my friends from Glasgow

North West, south-west and the

4:12:244:12:28

member for West Barton sure. But I

really do want to single out the

4:12:284:12:34

honourable gentleman foot Gedling,

who secured the debate, who in

4:12:344:12:39

opening gave a forensic, thoughtful,

blistering, sobering and I opening

4:12:394:12:47

contribution on the state of

defence, the Armed Forces and the

4:12:474:12:50

challenges we face now and in

future. The House is much better

4:12:504:12:54

informed as a result of him getting

this debate today. And it is in the

4:12:544:13:00

context of, as he mentioned, threats

internationally from Russia, North

4:13:004:13:04

Korea, and extremely unpredictable

incumbent in the Oval Office in the

4:13:044:13:11

United States, and new threats in

relation to cyber security and cyber

4:13:114:13:17

defence. And particularly, a boy

Stross Russia, which seems to be in

4:13:174:13:22

our waters on an almost weekly basis

over the past few years. What is it

4:13:224:13:30

that we have, Madam Deputy Speaker?

We have, following the reshuffle,

4:13:304:13:35

Whitehall's only all-male, all-white

department. The one woman who was a

4:13:354:13:40

minister was replaced by a man. So I

make an appeal to the Prime

4:13:404:13:45

Minister. I make an appeal that

perhaps the Minister on the Treasury

4:13:454:13:49

bench can take back a minister who

he knows I respect and like. Why can

4:13:494:13:54

we not have the promotion of the

honourable lady sat behind him, the

4:13:544:14:00

member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, who

would make not just a fine minister,

4:14:004:14:06

but actually would bring a new sense

of dynamism and youth, amongst that

4:14:064:14:12

extremely male dominated department?

I fear that my endorsement may have

4:14:124:14:19

the opposite effect. The kiss of

death, I hear. It may have the

4:14:194:14:25

opposite effect. In the week when

the army launched its diversity

4:14:254:14:29

recruitment campaign, the one woman

who had sat in the Ministry of

4:14:294:14:34

Defence as a minister was moved

elsewhere. So much... So why not

4:14:344:14:42

promote another woman to replace

her, instead of a man? This is the

4:14:424:14:45

point time to the House, Madam

Deputy Speaker. But I do wish to

4:14:454:14:52

look at the condition and state of

the Armed Forces, and perhaps

4:14:524:14:58

illustrate a bit more what has been

mentioned. Let's start with the

4:14:584:15:02

Army, which is the smallest at any

time since the Napoleonic Wars. I

4:15:024:15:08

wish to address the issue of terms

and conditions, starting with the

4:15:084:15:14

issue of pay. We know that the 1%

pay cut, because of inflation at

4:15:144:15:21

around 3%, is in real terms a cut to

their wages. And it is no wonder

4:15:214:15:27

there are some looking at their feet

on the government benches, because I

4:15:274:15:31

would be embarrassed to come to this

chamber and defend the government's

4:15:314:15:35

record as far as Armed Forces pay is

concerned. But I do want to address

4:15:354:15:41

the issue of the new rates of

Scottish income tax. If we take an

4:15:414:15:49

Army private on a salary of £18,500,

that Army private will pay less than

4:15:494:15:58

their counterparts based anywhere

else in the United Kingdom. I want

4:15:584:16:00

to make this point because it is

important. They make up the vast

4:16:004:16:06

majority of those who are based in

Scotland. Those at the higher end of

4:16:064:16:10

the pay scale who will pay a bit

more, make up a tiny percentage,

4:16:104:16:15

which is a legacy of decades of

underinvestment in defence in

4:16:154:16:19

Scotland by the party opposite and

the party who sit up the chamber

4:16:194:16:24

from me. But let's look at the

increases in context. An Army

4:16:244:16:29

Sergeant under the new SNP tax plans

will pay an extra £1.44 per week. A

4:16:294:16:37

naval lieu tenant will pay an extra

£2 61 per week. The honourable

4:16:374:16:44

member for Murray, who was so

outraged by all of this, may wish to

4:16:444:16:48

take back to his constituency one

figure, the average income, the

4:16:484:16:52

average wage in his constituency. I

took the liberty of looking it up

4:16:524:16:58

before this speech. It comes in at

£22,584. The average taxpayer in his

4:16:584:17:05

constituency will not pay any more.

4:17:054:17:11

Here is the point that we wish to

make. The front-line squaddie in

4:17:114:17:15

Scotland is getting money in his

pocket thanks to the SNP, while his

4:17:154:17:20

party cuts his wages and insists on

a continuous pay freeze.

I'm

4:17:204:17:26

grateful to the member for giving

way, because it allows me to say

4:17:264:17:29

once again that the tax will make

Scotland the highest taxed part of

4:17:294:17:34

the UK. And anyone in Scotland

earning more than £24,000, which is

4:17:344:17:39

hardly a high earner, will pay more

tax under the SNP plans than they

4:17:394:17:43

currently do, and that is affecting

members of our Armed Forces who have

4:17:434:17:47

been in contact with me about it.

I

will go over those figures again.

4:17:474:17:52

The Army sergeant on a salary of

around £33,000, pays 1.4 4p a week

4:17:524:17:59

more. I think that is fair. I think

it is fair to ask officers who are

4:17:594:18:09

earning in excess of £65,000,

bearing in mind the average salary

4:18:094:18:11

in his seat which is under £23,000,

is entirely fair.

Will the Army

4:18:114:18:19

sergeant or whatever rank be paying

these tax rates based on where he

4:18:194:18:23

was born, where he was living when

he joined the way he is based?

It is

4:18:234:18:30

where they are based, that is why I

say those based in Scotland will be

4:18:304:18:36

subject, the squaddies in Scotland

will get a tax cut. It is time to

4:18:364:18:45

lift the public sector pay cap which

is affecting serving soldiers. I

4:18:454:18:50

will give way.

Is it not the case

that the sergeant he refers to, who

4:18:504:18:54

will be paying off a bit more tax,

will beget in free prescriptions,

4:18:544:18:59

that his children will be going to

university for free, that the

4:18:594:19:04

grandparents will get free social

care because that is the social

4:19:044:19:08

contract.

There are many elements of

the social contract that they will

4:19:084:19:13

benefit from, of course they already

receive some of this as members of

4:19:134:19:16

the Armed Forces anyway, but there

are some elements in the social

4:19:164:19:19

contract that they will benefit

from. I also want to address the

4:19:194:19:23

issue of housing because I was

amazed to hear what the honourable

4:19:234:19:27

gentleman from West Aberdeenshire,

who I should have singled out, who I

4:19:274:19:32

thought gave a thoughtful speech.

Military housing that I have seen is

4:19:324:19:36

the kind of stuff that you would not

put a dangerous dogs into. And it is

4:19:364:19:44

one area where, as mentioned by the

right honourable gentleman who is

4:19:444:19:49

not in his place unfortunately, it

is one area where I know he sees the

4:19:494:19:53

Government really needs to put some

work into. And on recruitment, as

4:19:534:19:59

mentioned by my right honourable

friend from Glasgow North West, we

4:19:594:20:05

need an urgent alternative to the

capita contract, which rakes in

4:20:054:20:11

around £44 million a year over ten

years, and it was indeed the right

4:20:114:20:18

honourable member in his marvellous

report from last year, suggested in

4:20:184:20:22

filling the ranks, that an

alternative needs to be found. So on

4:20:224:20:28

terms and conditions, let's get our

house in order. I said to the Labour

4:20:284:20:35

benches and the honourable gentleman

joins us now, I said to the Labour

4:20:354:20:39

benches in a genuine hope we can

work together to on this, let's get

4:20:394:20:44

an Armed Forces trade union bill

before the House. Let's give them

4:20:444:20:49

the dignity and decency that they

deserve as workers in uniform, so as

4:20:494:20:53

to be in a better position to

bargain for better terms and

4:20:534:20:59

conditions for them and for their

families. I'm very pleased that not

4:20:594:21:02

only was that in the SNP manifesto,

but my party is currently

4:21:024:21:09

undertaking, led by Armed Forces and

veterans spokesperson, some polity

4:21:094:21:16

work -- policy work on how we can

better improve the terms and

4:21:164:21:20

conditions on offer to the Armed

Forces.

4:21:204:21:25

He has talked about accommodation,

and I don't know if he is aware that

4:21:254:21:30

Carillion, the parent company RE in

an extremely difficult financial

4:21:304:21:38

situation at the moment, and are in

discussion with their creditors

4:21:384:21:41

about whether the company will be

allowed to continue. Would he agree

4:21:414:21:46

with me that under those

circumstances, it is extremely poor

4:21:464:21:50

to that the Ministry of Defence has

a plan B, so that if the worst were

4:21:504:21:54

to happen to the corporate entity,

its personnel can still receive the

4:21:544:21:59

housing service?

I'm grateful for

that contribution because he is

4:21:594:22:02

right. My preferred option would be

to bring it back in-house. His

4:22:024:22:08

central point is right. It does need

to have a plan B and I have been

4:22:084:22:13

watching with interest on Carillion,

which I think made the papers this

4:22:134:22:17

morning. It is a really critical

time for them. Madam Deputy Speaker,

4:22:174:22:22

I want to briefly touch on

capability. Although we are running

4:22:224:22:26

slightly ahead of time, I wish to

hear what the Minister has to say.

4:22:264:22:32

We have this new mini review as has

been mentioned by several honourable

4:22:324:22:37

and right honourable member is,

being led by Sir Mark Seddon, and

4:22:374:22:41

that review is looking at both

security and defence aspects, and my

4:22:414:22:50

fear, as has been added by other

members, that this is about what the

4:22:504:22:57

Government can get away with

spending, as opposed to what the

4:22:574:23:00

Government needs to spend in terms

of the threat it faces. But we

4:23:004:23:05

learned that we kept, and I think

this was referenced in the

4:23:054:23:10

honourable member for Gedling's

opening speech, we learned in a

4:23:104:23:13

report in the Financial Times, that

that is now to be split up. Indeed,

4:23:134:23:17

many members who attend these

defence speeches are regularly, will

4:23:174:23:22

recall that that was supposed to be

published and presumably a

4:23:224:23:25

ministerial statement would have

been made early in the New Year. And

4:23:254:23:28

I would have been charitable and

extended that right up until the end

4:23:284:23:32

of March. But we now learn that the

defence aspects are to be kicked

4:23:324:23:36

later into the year. I would be

grateful if the Minister could tell

4:23:364:23:40

us in his summing up, whether or not

that is the case. The cynic in me

4:23:404:23:45

does wonder, and I am not normally

one for being cynical, but the cynic

4:23:454:23:50

in me does wonder, if this is about

getting beyond local elections in

4:23:504:23:53

May. And I seriously hope that kind

of politics is not on.

He seems to

4:23:534:24:01

imply some sort of plot, a

conspiracy involved in the splitting

4:24:014:24:05

up of the security and the defence

part of the review. If that is the

4:24:054:24:11

case, I strongly welcome it, because

by that means a much greater chance

4:24:114:24:15

that the defence budget will not be

cut. If the two are announced next

4:24:154:24:19

week together, the extra spend on

cyber four example will come out of

4:24:194:24:24

the defence budget. If he wants this

next week, he is speaking in favour

4:24:244:24:29

of defence cuts.

He is much more

optimistic than I am because I have

4:24:294:24:32

watched what this government has

done this week in the issue of the

4:24:324:24:36

EU Withdrawal Bill. This is a

government which will take every

4:24:364:24:39

opportunity to pull the wool over

people's eyes. I ask him to ask his

4:24:394:24:46

colleagues what is needed here is a

proper STS are, one that takes

4:24:464:24:51

account of the fact we will no

longer be members of the European

4:24:514:24:55

Union, one that takes account of the

fact we have had currency

4:24:554:24:59

fluctuations and the devaluation of

the pound, so I am in favour of

4:24:594:25:03

taking more time if we get a more

considered outcome but the cynic in

4:25:034:25:07

me suggests that is not what is at

play here. I give way.

I hope you

4:25:074:25:12

will see that separating defence out

from this amalgam that has been

4:25:124:25:18

created, could actually be a very

good thing, both in terms as he

4:25:184:25:23

himself acknowledge is focusing

attention on a purely defence

4:25:234:25:26

aspect, but also in terms of giving

a new Defence Secretary the

4:25:264:25:31

opportunity to fight and win the

battle is with the Treasury that

4:25:314:25:33

need to be fought and won.

I'm

amazed with the combined experience

4:25:334:25:41

of the two honourable members, that

they appeared to be this optimistic.

4:25:414:25:46

I fear that they are trying to

square the circle that cannot be

4:25:464:25:50

squared. What is needed, as the SNP

have called for for one year now, is

4:25:504:25:56

a proper SDSR to take account of the

fact we are leaving the European

4:25:564:26:00

Union, the devaluation of the pound

and currency fluctuations. I also

4:26:004:26:04

think that we need to address this

2% of GDP nonsense that we have

4:26:044:26:09

heard. The Government doesn't spend

2% of GDP on defence. Don't let it

4:26:094:26:14

get away with claiming that it does.

But 2% takes into account things

4:26:144:26:19

like pensions and efficiency savings

and other things that ought not to

4:26:194:26:22

be in there. I see you are getting

nervous of time, Madam Deputy

4:26:224:26:27

Speaker, so I will bring my remarks

to a conclusion by saying this. I

4:26:274:26:32

think it is right that we have more

defence debates of this nature in

4:26:324:26:36

the House. I think we should do it

in government time. I think the

4:26:364:26:40

Defence Secretary should have turned

up to the first defence speech of

4:26:404:26:43

his tenure, and it should not always

be the opposition dragging the

4:26:434:26:47

Government to this chamber to

explain its woeful record.

4:26:474:26:57

First and foremost, I would like to

congratulate my honourable friend,

4:26:574:27:02

the member for Gedling for securing

today's debate. He speaks with great

4:27:024:27:07

authority and passion on defence

matters. I would also like to echo

4:27:074:27:10

the member for Glasgow South that

today we have indeed heard many

4:27:104:27:15

considered and well-informed

speeches, including those from my

4:27:154:27:18

honourable friend from Bridgend,

Barnsley, Devonport, Barrow, and

4:27:184:27:25

others, and I will not make further

comments because I know time is

4:27:254:27:28

marching on and I know the Minister

would like a decent bit of time in

4:27:284:27:33

order to respond. Madam Deputy

Speaker, this debate takes place at

4:27:334:27:37

a time of immense uncertainty for

our Armed Forces. Numbers are

4:27:374:27:42

falling year-on-year. The defence

budget faces significant spending

4:27:424:27:46

gaps with fears of deep cuts to the

Royal Marines and our amphibious

4:27:464:27:49

capability. This uncertainty is also

putting at risk thousands of jobs in

4:27:494:27:55

our world-class defence industry,

and threatening to undermine our

4:27:554:27:58

schools base and sovereign

capability. And yet for all the talk

4:27:584:28:02

of stand-up rows with the

Chancellor, and the Minister

4:28:024:28:05

threatening to resign, we are still

none the wiser about what the

4:28:054:28:08

Defence Secretary and his ministers

will do to get to grips with the

4:28:084:28:11

serious challenges. The motion

before the House rightly pays

4:28:114:28:17

tribute to the brave men and women

who serve in our Armed Forces. Their

4:28:174:28:22

courage and dedication represent the

road best of what our country stands

4:28:224:28:26

for, and we pay tribute or those who

serve, particularly those who have

4:28:264:28:30

been separated from family and loved

ones over Christmas and the New

4:28:304:28:32

Year. Lastly, I had the privilege of

visiting personnel who are serving

4:28:324:28:37

with the Royal Welsh in Estonia. I

visited with the Armed Forces

4:28:374:28:42

Parliamentary scheme, and I would

like to pay tribute to the dinner

4:28:424:28:45

macros in North Wiltshire for the

hard work he does for that scheme.

4:28:454:28:49

In Estonia, along with members from

across the House, I saw the vital

4:28:494:28:52

work that is being done as part of

Nato's advanced forward presence

4:28:524:28:56

there. It is clear this mission is

highly valued by the Estonian

4:28:564:29:01

parliament and their forces, with

whom our forces serve as well as the

4:29:014:29:06

Estonian people more broadly. This

is not just about defending Estonia

4:29:064:29:10

from potential adverse risk, but it

is also about making clear that Nato

4:29:104:29:14

stands as one against external

threats -- potential adverse is. As

4:29:144:29:21

the UK leads the European Union, it

is all the more important that we

4:29:214:29:24

dedicate ourselves to those

international institutions which

4:29:244:29:26

have served this country's interests

over many decades. Our work with

4:29:264:29:33

these bodies is a reminder of the

huge good that this country can

4:29:334:29:36

achieve in the world, thanks to the

large part of our Armed Forces

4:29:364:29:41

service personnel, be it serving

Nato missions or as part of UN

4:29:414:29:46

peacekeeping efforts. I profoundly

regret that over the last seven

4:29:464:29:49

years we have seen the weakening of

our voice in the world, and it has

4:29:494:29:52

to be said our current Foreign

Secretary has not helped. Brexit

4:29:524:29:56

cannot and must not be an

opportunity for this country to turn

4:29:564:30:00

inwards, and to shirk our

international obligations. That

4:30:004:30:04

includes the responsibility to be a

critical friend to our country's

4:30:044:30:07

allies, when they flirt with

pursuing reckless policies which

4:30:074:30:11

endanger the international order.

One of our foremost international

4:30:114:30:17

obligations is to spend at least 2%

of GDP on defence in accordance with

4:30:174:30:24

our Nato commitments. The opposition

is fully committed both to Nato and

4:30:244:30:29

the 2%, and indeed, we spent well

above that on that figure in defence

4:30:294:30:32

in each year of the Labour

government, with defence spending at

4:30:324:30:36

two point oh percent of GDP when

Labour left office. I was pleased to

4:30:364:30:41

hear the new Secretary of State say

recently that he regards this 2%

4:30:414:30:45

figure as a floor and not a ceiling.

And yet under this government, we

4:30:454:30:49

have barely scraped over the line

and have come perilously close to

4:30:494:30:54

missing the target altogether. As

the Defence Select Committee has

4:30:544:30:57

found the Government is guilty of

shifting the goalposts, in that they

4:30:574:31:01

are now including areas of spending

in our Nato return which were not

4:31:014:31:04

counted when Labour was in

government. The fact is the 2% does

4:31:044:31:08

not go nearly as far at a time when

growth forecasts are being

4:31:084:31:11

downgraded due to the Government's

mismanagement of the economy. Madam

4:31:114:31:16

Deputy Speaker, the simple truth is

you cannot do security on the cheap,

4:31:164:31:20

and the British public expects their

government assure that defence and

4:31:204:31:24

the Armed Forces are properly

resourced.

4:31:244:31:31

I was staggered when the Secretary

of State admitted to me that he had

4:31:314:31:33

not been to see the Chancellor

before the budget to demand a decent

4:31:334:31:37

settlement for defence.

I wish he

had spent as much time fighting for

4:31:374:31:43

the defence budget as he appears to

do in briefing the newspapers about

4:31:434:31:46

rows with the Chancellor and

scuffles in voting lobbies. We know

4:31:464:31:51

that the national security

capability review is being carried

4:31:514:31:53

out within the same funding envelope

as the last SDS are. There will be

4:31:534:31:59

no new money. It has been widely

briefed that the government plans to

4:31:594:32:03

hive off defence from the review

altogether and carry out a separate

4:32:034:32:08

exercise sometime next year. I would

be grateful if the Minister can

4:32:084:32:11

character like -- clarify what the

format and timetable are. Whilst we

4:32:114:32:16

agree that the most important thing

is to get the decision is right,

4:32:164:32:19

this cannot be an opportunity to

kick the issue of funding into the

4:32:194:32:23

long grass. Nor should the review be

used to pip cyber security against

4:32:234:32:29

conventional capabilities. We must

develop and adapt our capabilities,

4:32:294:32:33

as the threats we face continue to

evolve, but Britain will always need

4:32:334:32:38

strong conventional forces,

including the nuclear deterrent, as

4:32:384:32:42

the member for West at the will be

pleased to hear. There is concern

4:32:424:32:47

across the House about possible cuts

to our conventional capabilities and

4:32:474:32:53

personnel. We understand that

concern is shared by the Minister

4:32:534:32:57

himself, who has even staked his

position on preventing further

4:32:574:33:00

defence cuts. With that in mind, can

he rule out that the government is

4:33:004:33:06

looking at selling HMS Albion and

HMS Bulwark, and can he confirmed

4:33:064:33:10

they will be no cuts to the Royal

Marines? These to sessions would

4:33:104:33:14

have a profound impact on the role

of the Royal Navy and would limit

4:33:144:33:18

our ability to carry out operations,

contribute to Nato missions and

4:33:184:33:23

facilitate humanitarian relief

efforts, as seen in a recent

4:33:234:33:26

operation. Madam Deputy Speaker,

there is deep concern about the

4:33:264:33:31

affordability of the government's

equipment plan more generally, with

4:33:314:33:36

the National Audit Office having

concluded that it is at greater risk

4:33:364:33:39

than at any time since its

inception. We know that the plan is

4:33:394:33:45

heavily reliant on efficiency

savings in order to make ends meet.

4:33:454:33:49

But the Defence Select Committee has

found that it is extremely doubtful

4:33:494:33:54

that the MOD can generate efficiency

is on the scale required.

4:33:544:34:01

Alarmingly, the committee also

uncovered considerable confusion

4:34:014:34:04

between the permanent secretary and

the former Defence Secretary over

4:34:044:34:07

the figures for the projected

efficiency savings. So can the

4:34:074:34:12

Minister clarify just how much the

department is counting on saving? We

4:34:124:34:16

also face a major challenge you to

the dramatic slump in the value of

4:34:164:34:22

sterling, down an unprecedented 17%

under this government. Given that

4:34:224:34:28

18.6 billion of the equipment plan

is to be paid for in dollars,

4:34:284:34:33

including the F 35 programme and the

Apache attack helicopters, the

4:34:334:34:37

government needs to come clean about

the effect this will have on the

4:34:374:34:40

equipment budget that is already

stretched. Of course, as well as

4:34:404:34:45

investing in equipment we must

invest in the men and women who

4:34:454:34:48

serve in our Armed Forces.

Worryingly, the government has

4:34:484:34:53

decided to cut training exercises in

the coming year, and I know this is

4:34:534:34:57

a source of concern for service

personnel. We also face a crisis in

4:34:574:35:02

recruitment and retention, with more

and more personnel choosing to leave

4:35:024:35:06

the Armed Forces. Everyone of the

services is falling in size, and the

4:35:064:35:11

government has broken its 2015

manifesto pledge to have an army of

4:35:114:35:16

82,000, and the pledge before last

year's election to maintain the

4:35:164:35:19

overall size of the Armed Forces. We

have been clear that one way of

4:35:194:35:25

beginning to remedy this sorry state

of affairs would be to lift the

4:35:254:35:28

public sector pay cap and give our

forces a fair pay rise. This would

4:35:284:35:33

not be a silver bullet to the real

challenge as regards personnel

4:35:334:35:37

numbers, but we do know from the

personnel themselves that pay is one

4:35:374:35:40

of the main reasons why they choose

to leave our Armed Forces. Indeed,

4:35:404:35:46

satisfaction with basic rates of pay

and pension benefits are at the

4:35:464:35:49

lowest levels ever recorded. But we

must also explore other means of

4:35:494:35:55

boosting recruitment rates,

particularly from those from

4:35:554:35:58

underrepresented groups. With this

in mind, I welcome the Army's recent

4:35:584:36:04

recruitment drive, despite the

hysteria provoked in parts of the

4:36:044:36:07

press, because if we can move

perceptions that deter potential

4:36:074:36:10

applicants, that is to be welcomed.

But we must take more radical

4:36:104:36:16

action, which means looking

seriously at the recruitment

4:36:164:36:18

contract with Capita, which is not

fit for purpose. There have been

4:36:184:36:23

substantial delays to IT systems and

planned savings have not

4:36:234:36:27

materialised. More fundamentally,

Capita has not done its job of

4:36:274:36:31

boosting agreement into the forces.

I know that the Minister shares a

4:36:314:36:38

strong commitment to the defence and

security of this country. The

4:36:384:36:42

question is whether he can convince

his colleagues across government

4:36:424:36:47

that you simply cannot do security

on the cheap. And we wish him well

4:36:474:36:51

in that endeavour.

Thank you. It is

a real pleasure and an honour to

4:36:514:37:03

respond to such a formidable debate.

It has been a truly detailed,

4:37:034:37:08

constructive and for much of the

time I think there has been a

4:37:084:37:12

consensus that the direction of

travel that we need to go. Can I

4:37:124:37:15

join others in congratulating the

honourable member forget link in

4:37:154:37:20

securing this debate and the

contributions that have been made

4:37:204:37:22

across the House. It is encouraging

to know there is such a level of

4:37:224:37:28

detail that can be illustrated by

honourable members from all sides in

4:37:284:37:33

providing that support to our brave

and professional men and women of

4:37:334:37:36

our Armed Forces. In congratulating

them for what they do, can I come

4:37:364:37:42

under half of the House, express

gratitude to the families that

4:37:424:37:45

support those in uniform, to the

cadets, the future of our Armed

4:37:454:37:50

Forces, to the reserves as well, and

to the Royal Fleet auxiliary, who

4:37:504:37:54

all play an important role in

defending our nation and reminding

4:37:544:37:57

us who we are. There has been a

reshuffle. I am delighted and

4:37:574:38:03

honoured to continue in this role

but I welcome my good and honourable

4:38:034:38:08

friend for Abergavenny and I wish

him all the best. Can I also wish

4:38:084:38:16

our honourable friend for West

Worcestershire the best, who moves

4:38:164:38:19

to the Foreign and Commonwealth

Office? There was a mention about

4:38:194:38:22

the balance of gender. The numbers

overall, there has been a huge jump

4:38:224:38:29

in the numbers of women representing

the ministerial positions across our

4:38:294:38:35

government. And let's not forget

that we have a female Prime

4:38:354:38:39

Minister, the second female Prime

Minister this party has put forward

4:38:394:38:42

itself. This debate focuses on a

number of areas. Firstly, equipment

4:38:424:38:50

and resources, defence expenditure

and the size of our regular

4:38:504:38:53

services. I will do my best to

answer honourable members'

4:38:534:38:58

questions. As I have done

traditionally, there is not time to

4:38:584:39:02

go into detail, but we will be

writing where I have not been able

4:39:024:39:05

to do justice, to every member that

has raised questions, so I can do my

4:39:054:39:09

best to answer those in due course.

Mayite temper expectations, because

4:39:094:39:16

I will not be able to provide some

of the bigger answers to do with

4:39:164:39:21

where the capability review and so

forth goes. I will say that answers

4:39:214:39:26

are coming. Please be patient, and

announcements will be made. Before

4:39:264:39:32

going into the detail of the

outputs, we should actually look at

4:39:324:39:36

the bigger question, which was

wonderfully articulated by the

4:39:364:39:40

honourable member for

Stoke-on-Trent, who asked the

4:39:404:39:44

question, what role do we require

our Armed Forces to play? Of course,

4:39:444:39:49

they must defend our skies, they

must defend our shores, and the UK's

4:39:494:39:54

interests overseas. But do we aspire

to partner with, train, or lead

4:39:544:40:01

other like-minded nations in dealing

with the threats and challenges the

4:40:014:40:05

world faces? Should our defence

posture be limited to wharf fighting

4:40:054:40:10

and defending, or include

stabilisation and peacekeeping

4:40:104:40:12

capabilities? With the conduct of

war advancing and the battlefield

4:40:124:40:18

ever more complex, how do we respond

to the very new threat that the fast

4:40:184:40:22

changing technology is presenting?

As has been reflected in this

4:40:224:40:29

debate, Britain absolutely aspires

to act as a force for good on the

4:40:294:40:33

international stage. We have the

means and the aspiration to step

4:40:334:40:37

forward when other nations may

hesitate. It is all the more

4:40:374:40:41

critical at a time when some nations

are ignoring the rules -based order

4:40:414:40:45

that we helped to establish and has

served us well for decades, and

4:40:454:40:51

other nations are adopting a more

nationalist approach. This is why

4:40:514:40:57

the UK forces are currently

conducting and contributing to

4:40:574:41:00

operations across the world. As has

been mentioned, our contribution to

4:41:004:41:05

defeat Daesh in Iraq and Syria. We

continued to help train troops in

4:41:054:41:11

Afghanistan with operation resolute

support. And we are doing our bit in

4:41:114:41:16

supporting Ukrainian Armed Forces,

in training them in the challenges

4:41:164:41:19

they face. We are involved in

peacekeeping missions in Kosovo,

4:41:194:41:22

Somalia, South Sudan, and training

the Libyan coast guard to respond to

4:41:224:41:28

migration in the middle regime and

in counter and piracy off the Horn

4:41:284:41:31

of Africa. HMS Argyll and Southern

will deploy to the Asia-Pacific this

4:41:314:41:38

year and British milk free personnel

will join military training on the

4:41:384:41:42

Japanese mainland, underlining the

UK's commitment to peace and

4:41:424:41:45

stability in the region. The

honourable member for Barrow and

4:41:454:41:50

Furness made a point as to where

this leaves us post Brexit. We will

4:41:504:41:55

not have the EU membership card in

our back pocket. But we remain a

4:41:554:41:59

formidable force, the biggest force

in Europe. I believe it will be

4:41:594:42:03

still the coalition of the willing

that will step forward to meet the

4:42:034:42:06

challenges of today, in the same way

that when there was an Ebola crisis

4:42:064:42:10

in West Africa, it was us that step

forward, with other nations, not

4:42:104:42:15

necessarily active members of Nato.

The same will continue into the

4:42:154:42:19

future. It is whether we have the

capability and the desire to step

4:42:194:42:24

forward, rather than what

organisations we might or might not

4:42:244:42:26

be part of. So the versatility of

our Armed Forces is regularly

4:42:264:42:33

demonstrated when they step forward

to help with not just responding in

4:42:334:42:37

war, but fighting in peacekeeping

scenarios, and has been mentioned by

4:42:374:42:42

responding to Hurricane Irma in the

Caribbean, with 2000 personnel

4:42:424:42:44

deployed there to provide

humanitarian aid and disaster

4:42:444:42:48

response. Another example of when

the security threat changes here,

4:42:484:42:57

and our police took wire support

themselves. We saw that last year. I

4:42:574:43:01

would also add that they provide

invaluable support to our

4:43:014:43:08

intelligence agencies, embassies,

overseas to efforts, and our police

4:43:084:43:11

force and communities, often with

very little recognition. I know the

4:43:114:43:14

House will join me in thanking them

for their efforts. This is a big

4:43:144:43:19

year for the Armed Forces as we mark

100 years of the end of World War I.

4:43:194:43:25

And it is 100 years since the

founding of the RAF. We look forward

4:43:254:43:30

to celebrating that, too. I will

give way.

I apologise, Madam Deputy

4:43:304:43:37

Speaker, for missing the debate

today on about with my honourable

4:43:374:43:41

friend, I was on a visit to an RAF

base with the Armed Forces scheme.

4:43:414:43:48

Will he join me in commending the

work there, at home and abroad, in

4:43:484:43:53

alleviating the destruction caused

by Hurricane Irma last year. And

4:43:534:43:56

will he agree that the Chinedu Nick

is a robust, versatile platform and

4:43:564:44:00

we should ensure it continues long

into the future.

Can I welcome him

4:44:004:44:05

to the debate and say absolutely it

is a pleasure to join him and paid

4:44:054:44:10

tribute to all of the RAF bases on

the work the RAF does. And could

4:44:104:44:15

iron courage all honourable and

right honourable members to talk to

4:44:154:44:18

your local authorities, asked what

they might be doing to mark Armed

4:44:184:44:22

Forces Day on the 30th of June. This

is a great opportunity for us to

4:44:224:44:27

make sure that the nation, local

communities and so forth, can mark

4:44:274:44:32

and celebrate what our Armed Forces

do. If I'm a turn to equipment and

4:44:324:44:36

resources. Why two I thank my right

honourable and gallant friend for

4:44:364:44:44

giving way. Like many in the house,

I am delighted he remains in his

4:44:444:44:47

place.

I read his cogent article in

the Sunday Telegraph about the many

4:44:474:44:54

roles our Armed Forces perform,

including maintaining the economic

4:44:544:44:59

well-being of our nation, not least

as 90% of our trade comes by C.

4:44:594:45:03

Could he say something about the

importance of that?

Something we

4:45:034:45:09

perhaps take for granted is the fact

of how open our economy is, how we

4:45:094:45:13

require that the freedom of the

Seas, in order to make sure we can

4:45:134:45:19

trade and attract businesses here.

There is an intertwined link between

4:45:194:45:22

security and our economy. And we

forget that at our peril. It is a

4:45:224:45:28

powerful point to be reminded of.

My

honourable friend went through a

4:45:284:45:33

comprehensive list of the equipment

we are doing. He has copied my list.

4:45:334:45:39

I will certainly underline the fact

that we have some amazing bits of

4:45:394:45:42

equipment coming through with our

pledge to spend £178 billion. The

4:45:424:45:49

aircraft carriers have been

mentioned, the 35, 14 of them have

4:45:494:45:53

been delivered, the type 26, the

type 31, we had a debate about that.

4:45:534:45:59

And the dreadnought programmers

coming online as well. In the army,

4:45:594:46:02

we have the Ajax armoured fighting

vehicle. And we have, with the RAF,

4:46:024:46:12

not only the upgrade of the typhoon,

but the 35 coming on to the fifth

4:46:124:46:18

generation, joining the forces as

well.

4:46:184:46:25

Much of this debate has focused on

expenditure. The defence budget is

4:46:254:46:30

36 billion this year. We hold the

fifth largest defence budget in the

4:46:304:46:34

world. The Government has made a

commitment to increase this by 0.5%

4:46:344:46:39

above inflation every year of this

Parliament. It will be worth almost

4:46:394:46:46

£40 billion by 2021. But I do make

clear that the Secretary of State

4:46:464:46:50

has made his views very strong

indeed impart leg. The capability

4:46:504:46:56

review is a priority for the

Ministry of Defence. -- he has made

4:46:564:47:03

his views are as strong in this

Parliament. The capability review

4:47:034:47:07

was brought about because this has

changed since the SDSR in 2015. We

4:47:074:47:17

have had terrorist attacks on a land

and cyber attacks on this building.

4:47:174:47:23

He is quite right that this misses

the tainted the need for a review to

4:47:234:47:28

renew and reinforce our commitment

to the UK's position as a force for

4:47:284:47:36

peace, stability and prosperity

across the world.

4:47:364:47:42

We ask very simple question, if that

review comes to conclusion, the more

4:47:424:47:47

defence spending is required, where

will the extra money come from?

He

4:47:474:47:53

makes a very important point. It is

one for the Secretary of State to

4:47:534:47:57

spell out in more detail but that is

the big question that we must ask

4:47:574:48:02

ourselves, as fiscal Conservatives,

responsible Conservatives, the money

4:48:024:48:05

must come from somewhere and that is

why you cannot rush in and say the

4:48:054:48:09

money is provided. That is why the

detail has to come through and why I

4:48:094:48:12

hope we will hear more detail in due

course. But it is re-clear from the

4:48:124:48:17

contributions made today but also

what we see around us in the world

4:48:174:48:22

-- the world does not stand still

and know do we. We must be sure we

4:48:224:48:26

possess the right combination of

capabilities to meet the threats I

4:48:264:48:35

have outlined. And we must retain

our long-standing position as one of

4:48:354:48:39

the world was the most innovative

nations and do more to harness the

4:48:394:48:43

benefits of technological process

and reinforce our military edge. I

4:48:434:48:47

can ensure the House that the

Ministry of Defence has no intention

4:48:474:48:50

of leaving the UK less safe, or the

men and women of our Armed Forces

4:48:504:48:54

more vulnerable as a result of this

review. The House is well aware of

4:48:544:49:05

my position on the size of the Armed

Forces. I want to see the UK

4:49:054:49:10

maintain the long held military edge

and its position as world leader in

4:49:104:49:15

matters of defence and security. The

Ministry of Defence and the

4:49:154:49:18

Government as a whole share my

ambition. If I can also address the

4:49:184:49:22

involvement of ministers and indeed

generals and others in uniform in

4:49:224:49:26

the process itself. This has not

just been by the permanent secretary

4:49:264:49:32

but a team of generals as well.

I

thank the Minister for giving way.

4:49:324:49:41

He has just said that we will not be

left more vulnerable. In January, on

4:49:414:49:47

the 25th of January, the then

defence procurement Minister wrote

4:49:474:49:52

to me and said that she could

reassure me that the out of service

4:49:524:49:59

date for HMS Albion and HMS bulwark

remained at 2034 and 2035

4:49:594:50:07

respectively, and that their role

remained vital. So that has to rule

4:50:074:50:13

out scrapping these ships because

obviously they still had a vital

4:50:134:50:17

role to play in January last year,

why would their role be any less

4:50:174:50:22

vital in January this year?

I'm

grateful to his question. He is

4:50:224:50:28

asking an operational question about

our capability. It is important and

4:50:284:50:32

I stressed to this House we must

maintain a capable Marine presence

4:50:324:50:37

and maintain a capable power

presents as well. More will become

4:50:374:50:48

clear there is soon indeed. I have

more progress to Mac.

Can I come

4:50:484:50:56

back to the point raised by the home

of the Defence Select Committee? If

4:50:564:51:05

it was the case that this capability

was vital last year, and we have got

4:51:054:51:13

an end date, what has changed in the

meantime to put it in anyway under

4:51:134:51:19

question?

The honourable gentleman

is trying to pre-empt the capability

4:51:194:51:23

review and what is now going to

follow. All I can ask is patience

4:51:234:51:27

pleased because these answers, as I

say, will be forthcoming. I simply

4:51:274:51:32

also want to make the case that from

the Marines amphibious city, it is

4:51:324:51:37

important that we have that

capability and that is not lost as

4:51:374:51:41

well. Just turn into some other

contributions that were made on

4:51:414:51:47

recruitment and retention. I am

pleased to say that recruitment is

4:51:474:51:59

moving forward. We need to recruit

specialists as well. The Art of War

4:51:594:52:09

is changing fundamentally. The

requirement of what is needed on the

4:52:094:52:13

battlefield means we should not

necessarily have to train somebody

4:52:134:52:16

from start to finish. Is it easier

to have somebody with the technology

4:52:164:52:22

or understanding, for example a

subject matter expert from a

4:52:224:52:25

country, about a country say in the

Middle East, Broughton, trained, who

4:52:254:52:34

can then joined our -- brought in

and joined our country. We need to

4:52:344:52:45

adapt and also reflect society as a

whole. We have now opened up all the

4:52:454:52:50

roles to women and our new campaign,

we have seen applications rise by

4:52:504:52:57

20% since 2016-17. The reserves are

up by almost 5% as well on last

4:52:574:53:01

year. But the offering must also

change. Concerns have been made

4:53:014:53:07

about accommodation. We are looking

at a new accommodation model. I

4:53:074:53:11

share the concern about Carillion.

But we need to give individuals more

4:53:114:53:16

opportunity. Do they want to stay in

the garrison, do they want to rent

4:53:164:53:19

or do they want to own their own

house as well? That is what other

4:53:194:53:27

people aspire to. Flexible working

is something many honourable members

4:53:274:53:31

participated in the builder went

through, to allow a period of time

4:53:314:53:34

for somebody to take a step back

from what they are doing in the

4:53:344:53:37

Armed Forces to spend more time with

their family, possibly to have a

4:53:374:53:41

child for example. This is proving

hugely popular as well. And the

4:53:414:53:46

enterprise approach is about

attracting people on a sabbatical,

4:53:464:53:55

for example people with engineering

capabilities or linguists. It would

4:53:554:53:58

not be cost-effective to train

someone from the bottom rungs all

4:53:584:54:00

the way through. The veterans

package has been mentioned. I'm

4:54:004:54:03

proud of the work this government

has done in supporting the Armed

4:54:034:54:07

covenant. We have had over 2000

companies which are signed up for

4:54:074:54:12

this and also the veterans gateway.

This is the online portal which

4:54:124:54:16

allows any individual to understand

the myriad of military facing

4:54:164:54:19

charities that are there to support

our brave Armed Forces as they make

4:54:194:54:24

the transition into civilian life.

It is an excellent bit of work and I

4:54:244:54:28

commend it to all members to look

at. And finally on this front is our

4:54:284:54:32

mental health strategy where we are

trying to remove the stigma of

4:54:324:54:36

acknowledging or stepping forward if

you are suffering from any form of

4:54:364:54:42

mental health. A couple of comments

were made by the public sector. It

4:54:424:54:47

is obviously up to the Armed Forces

salary review board, but I will say

4:54:474:54:51

the cap has been lifted. There is

the freedom to go above 1% but it is

4:54:514:54:55

for the recommendation is to be made

by the review body itself. And the

4:54:554:55:00

final contribution I wanted to

comment on is my honourable friend

4:55:004:55:04

from the Isle of Wight. He made a

pertinent point about if the Armed

4:55:044:55:08

Forces is not being used, it is

perceived as being redundant. In the

4:55:084:55:14

Art of War it was talked about the

supreme excellence consists of

4:55:144:55:19

breaking the enemy's resistance

without actually fighting. Having

4:55:194:55:23

that armed force, having a posture,

having a strong capability that

4:55:234:55:28

backs up our soft power can do much

to influence the world around us

4:55:284:55:32

without having to lead to any

fighting or military engagement

4:55:324:55:36

itself. In conclusion, because I

would like to give a couple of

4:55:364:55:45

minutes to the honourable member for

Bedlington who has proposed this

4:55:454:55:48

motion, could I thank all members

including the never macro for their

4:55:484:55:50

contributions. -- the honourable

member for Bedlington. I hope the

4:55:504:55:53

whole house are deeply indebted to

all those who choose to wear the

4:55:534:55:57

uniform, and if required stand in

harms way in defence of our country,

4:55:574:56:00

our values and unaided those in need

across the world. It is the

4:56:004:56:05

professionalism of the defence of

our defence people that forms the

4:56:054:56:08

hard power which is respected by

allies and feared by adverse threes.

4:56:084:56:13

And it is this hard power that sits

behind the country's soft power that

4:56:134:56:17

allows us to play continued

influential role on world's stage.

4:56:174:56:25

As the world moves faster and

becomes more dangerous, we must not

4:56:254:56:29

be naive about the durability of the

relative peace that the UK has

4:56:294:56:33

enjoyed over the last few decades.

Our country, indeed our open

4:56:334:56:38

international economy as mentioned,

our values are vulnerable to a range

4:56:384:56:43

of rowing world threats that have no

respect for our borders. It is

4:56:434:56:47

critical that Britain's defence

posture remains credible and we

4:56:474:56:51

maintain our military edge, and that

is exactly what the Secretary of

4:56:514:56:56

State is working to achieve. I end

by reminding the House that

4:56:564:57:00

President Reagan said freedom is

never more than one generation away

4:57:004:57:04

from extinction. Let's not take our

ability to fight, the security that

4:57:044:57:11

we have for granted, but for all of

us here in this House, to make the

4:57:114:57:16

case for a strong and credible

defence.

4:57:164:57:17

Thank you.

Vernon Coaker.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker. Can

4:57:174:57:25

I thank the Minister for his

response and can I thank all of my

4:57:254:57:30

honourable friends and all

honourable members who have taken

4:57:304:57:32

part in this well-informed debate

that we have had here this

4:57:324:57:36

afternoon. Can I say gently to the

Minister, is it a point that the

4:57:364:57:44

Secretary of State has not been here

for the debate, to listen to the

4:57:444:57:48

intensity of feeling across the

House, that wants to get behind him

4:57:484:57:52

in his argument is frankly with the

Treasury, and I say that gently to

4:57:524:57:57

the minister because the Secretary

of State needs to have heard that in

4:57:574:58:00

his discussions with the Chancellor.

Canales said the minister that a lot

4:58:004:58:05

of what he said in his statement is

there will be lots of answers in due

4:58:054:58:09

course. And as it stands at the

moment, that means we don't know

4:58:094:58:15

from the Government about the size

of the Army. We do know from the

4:58:154:58:20

Government about whether there are

continuing threats to the numbers of

4:58:204:58:24

Marines and two Albion and Bulwark

as those ships. We don't know about

4:58:244:58:31

things to do with the numbers of

planes. We don't know about a whole

4:58:314:58:38

number of equipment decisions. And

let me say this, the reason that the

4:58:384:58:43

Government is in this predicament is

exactly what his two honourable

4:58:434:58:48

friends behind him have said, what

many other side have said, that the

4:58:484:58:54

national Security adviser at the

select committee said that he was

4:58:544:58:59

instructed by his counsel to deliver

a strategy review that was fiscally

4:58:594:59:02

neutral. That means it does not

matter what threats he uncovers,

4:59:024:59:08

what threats he feels this country

faces, and we have heard that

4:59:084:59:12

everyone believes those threats have

increased and intensified, he will

4:59:124:59:16

not recommend that there should be

more money. He will recommend that

4:59:164:59:20

you cut from there to pay for that.

That is totally and utterly

4:59:204:59:26

unacceptable to this parliament,

unacceptable to the public, and

4:59:264:59:29

unacceptable to this country. It is

not good enough, and the Government

4:59:294:59:35

has to get a grip and realise that

we will not have defence on the

4:59:354:59:38

cheap. This Parliament will not vote

for it, and all power, and I say

4:59:384:59:44

this as a Labour politician, all

power to the Government in there are

4:59:444:59:48

committed with the Treasury to get

the money that it needs, to defend

4:59:484:59:51

the country that will love, to

continue to promote democracy and

4:59:514:59:56

human rights across the world.

That's what needs to happen and all

4:59:564:59:59

power to the Secretary of State as

he argues with the Treasury to get

4:59:595:00:03

that. Anything else would be a

dilution of the responsibilities of

5:00:035:00:07

this Parliament.

The question is as

on the order paper. As many as are

5:00:075:00:15

of the opinion, say "aye". To the

contrary, "no". The ayes have it,

5:00:155:00:21

the ayes have it. Point of order Mr

Gavin Newland.

Thank you very much

5:00:215:00:30

and a point of order, I would like

to correct the record, it appears I

5:00:305:00:36

may have inadvertently misled the

House this morning. During business

5:00:365:00:39

questions I spoke to -- I spoke

about the Scottish Government

5:00:395:00:46

sending two letters without

replying. Hansard did not record the

5:00:465:00:50

without reply that the minister

responded to that specific point in

5:00:505:00:53

his response. It has since come to

my attention that the Scottish

5:00:535:00:59

Government has recently received a

response from the Secretary of State

5:00:595:01:03

and I did not want the day to end

without correcting the record and I

5:01:035:01:07

thank you for the opportunity to do

so, Madam Deputy Speaker.

5:01:075:01:14

The record requires to be corrected,

and he has adequately done so. We

5:01:145:01:21

now come to motion number two,

relating to the selection committee.

5:01:215:01:29

I beg to move.

The question is as on

the order paper. The ayes have it.

I

5:01:295:01:42

beg to move that this House do now

adjourn.

The question is that this

5:01:425:01:46

House do now adjourned.

I am

grateful for giving me this

5:01:465:01:54

opportunity to raise the issue of

plumbers' pension scheme, affecting

5:01:545:02:00

plumbing businesses in my

constituency of Angus and many

5:02:005:02:04

within areas that my colleagues

represent. Most plumbers are part of

5:02:045:02:10

a multi-employer pension scheme,

such as the plumbing and mechanical

5:02:105:02:13

services UK and a street pension

scheme, run by the Scottish and

5:02:135:02:18

Northern Ireland plumbing employers

Federation. The scheme has over

5:02:185:02:22

35,000 members, more than 350

contributing employers, and as of

5:02:225:02:28

April 2000 17, billion in assets.

Since its inception in 1975, around

5:02:285:02:34

4000 employers have paid into the

scheme. Members would like to know

5:02:345:02:39

how was the 101%, currently in the

scheme, is on a buyout basis, or on

5:02:395:02:46

technical provision basis.

Fundamentally, this is a consequence

5:02:465:02:52

of section 75 of the pensions act,

1995, subsequently amended in 2005,

5:02:525:02:59

which covers what happens when an

employer ceases to participate in a

5:02:595:03:04

multi-employer pension scheme. When

a participating employer leaves the

5:03:045:03:10

scheme, by becoming insolvent,

winding up, changing legal status or

5:03:105:03:14

by simply no longer having active

members in the scheme, it becomes

5:03:145:03:19

liable for a section 75 employer

debts to cover their Splash their

5:03:195:03:23

share of the liabilities. The size

of a section 75 employer debt can

5:03:235:03:29

only be known when the employer

ceases to participate, due to the

5:03:295:03:32

variety of factors that going to how

the debt is calculated, ranging from

5:03:325:03:38

how many scheme members the employer

employees, the value of the assets,

5:03:385:03:44

and so-called orphan liabilities. Or

fund liabilities are liabilities

5:03:445:03:47

that cannot be identified from those

who have left the scheme in the

5:03:475:03:50

past. So in essence, employers

leaving today are on the hook for

5:03:505:03:56

liabilities incurred by those who

left years ago. There is nothing

5:03:565:04:00

objectionable about the idea of a

section 75 employer debt. The

5:04:005:04:04

premise that employers leaving a

pension scheme should leave on terms

5:04:045:04:08

that protect the integrity of the

scheme is entirely reasonable.

5:04:085:04:13

However, the legislation is not

suited to the plumbers pension

5:04:135:04:17

scheme and has inadvertently left

many plumbers basing vast

5:04:175:04:20

liabilities when they come to

retirement. It is ironic that a

5:04:205:04:25

measure designed in good faith to

protect people's retirement has put

5:04:255:04:30

many people's retirements in

jeopardy. I will give way.

Can I

5:04:305:04:37

draw her attention to last November.

I also draw her attention to the

5:04:375:04:49

case of a plumber in my constituency

who cannot retire because of the

5:04:495:04:55

liabilities he would incur. He wants

to pass the business onto his

5:04:555:05:01

workers, but that would deprive him

of the pension pot he has gathered

5:05:015:05:05

diligently over many years. He

cannot hang around until 2020. That

5:05:055:05:11

makes the case very strongly, as

well as what the lady has been

5:05:115:05:16

saying, the case to the Minister

that we need quick action, diligence

5:05:165:05:20

and prudence, but quick action on

this matter.

I completely agree. My

5:05:205:05:28

constituents also have grave

concerns because they could

5:05:285:05:31

essentially be left with nothing.

That is why I will go on to merge

5:05:315:05:36

various recommendations to the

government to act. Why does this

5:05:365:05:41

legislation have unintended

consequences for plumbers? The first

5:05:415:05:44

issue is that the plumbing industry

is mostly composed of small, family

5:05:445:05:49

run businesses, established for many

years, creating local jobs and

5:05:495:05:54

contributing to local economies, the

linchpin of communities. This is an

5:05:545:05:59

example of true, entrepreneurial

individualism which I have huge

5:05:595:06:04

admiration for. They have built

businesses which have largely

5:06:045:06:08

withstood the rise of large

corporations and big gig economy.

5:06:085:06:12

The legislation is not made for

industries like these. The turnover

5:06:125:06:17

of employers leaving the scheme is

higher because many plumbers shut

5:06:175:06:20

down businesses when they retire. In

many other industries with

5:06:205:06:26

multi-employer pension schemes,

companies tend not to be tied to a

5:06:265:06:29

specific person and are less likely

to close voluntarily. In plumbing,

5:06:295:06:33

there is a steady stream of

employers reaching retirement,

5:06:335:06:37

closing businesses and finding

themselves liable for huge sums of

5:06:375:06:40

money. The turnover of employers,

combined with the age of the scheme,

5:06:405:06:45

has the consequence of making the

aforementioned orphan liabilities

5:06:455:06:49

particularly owner us. Much of the

deficit comes from employers who

5:06:495:06:54

left the scheme years ago and those

liabilities being shared among

5:06:545:06:58

currently departing employers.

Moreover, many plumbers own

5:06:585:07:05

businesses which are not

incorporated, leaving them

5:07:055:07:08

personally liable for business

liabilities, such as the crushing

5:07:085:07:12

section 75 employer debt. Perhaps a

plumber could change their business

5:07:125:07:16

into a limited company, but that in

itself could incur employer debt,

5:07:165:07:21

leaving plumbers with very little

room to manoeuvre. They cannot sell

5:07:215:07:25

the business, or even transferring

from

5:07:255:07:29

parent to child without incurring

employer debt. Nor can they move

5:07:295:07:32

employees to a new pension scheme.

They are in effect

5:07:325:07:35

trapped in the scheme with no

escape. Plumbers are exposed to

5:07:355:07:45

paying vast employer debt when they

retire. Many plumbers faced with a

5:07:455:07:48

massive bill when trying to close

businesses had no idea this could

5:07:485:07:52

happen to them. This has been a

sudden and deeply damaging surprise.

5:07:525:07:56

This issue is not 22 years old. The

change in 2005 which requires

5:07:565:08:06

employers to pay enough into the

scheme drastically increased the

5:08:065:08:10

amount that plumbers could be liable

for. And until recently, the pension

5:08:105:08:16

scheme was unable to calculate or

estimate section 75 employer debts

5:08:165:08:21

because it's legislation was not

easily applicable to the scheme,

5:08:215:08:24

being as large as it is, and because

it did not have the necessary data.

5:08:245:08:29

This has had a devastating effect on

many plumbers. I will give way.

I

5:08:295:08:37

thank my honourable friend and

congratulate her on achieving this

5:08:375:08:39

debate. Does she agree that

providing clarity is key for so many

5:08:395:08:45

plumbers in her constituency and

mine and across the country, because

5:08:455:08:49

they are suffering, and the impact

is not just on them and their

5:08:495:08:53

employees, but also their families?

I completely agree with my

5:08:535:08:56

honourable friend that it is not

just the individual but their

5:08:565:09:01

company, families and livelihoods,

which is why it is important this

5:09:015:09:04

issue has come to the House.

Plumbers have worked hard all their

5:09:045:09:09

lives and are in danger of losing

everything when they trigger their

5:09:095:09:13

business employer debt, their homes,

life savings, plans for retirement,

5:09:135:09:16

all for being responsible employers

who sought to provide for the

5:09:165:09:21

retirement of their employees. It is

a tragic irony made worse by some of

5:09:215:09:25

the ludicrous sums involved. Some

plumbers find themselves being

5:09:255:09:30

scared by potentially being liable

for up to millions of pounds,

5:09:305:09:34

amounts of money they could not

possibly manage to pay. I would urge

5:09:345:09:38

the trustees to do an immediate

valuation for an accurate evaluation

5:09:385:09:42

for these plumbers.

She is making a

very powerful case and

5:09:425:09:50

congratulations to her on securing

this debate. I will not be the only

5:09:505:09:55

member who has had the distressing

experience of listening to the

5:09:555:09:58

agonies that these good people are

going through. These are people who

5:09:585:10:01

have worked hard, long and hard, and

have built something for their

5:10:015:10:08

families and now face financial

ruin. While it is right that the

5:10:085:10:13

trustees of the fund should

undertake a thorough review of the

5:10:135:10:17

options, does my honourable friend

feel that the government has a part

5:10:175:10:20

to play in helping bring clarity to

this situation?

I thank my

5:10:205:10:26

honourable friend and completely

agree there is a role for the

5:10:265:10:29

trustees to play, and a role for the

government to support that process

5:10:295:10:32

as well. I will give way.

On the

suggestion about the trustees and

5:10:325:10:43

evaluation, I understand what she is

saying, but is that evaluation not

5:10:435:10:47

going to highlight the ludicrous

position already highlighted that

5:10:475:10:50

some people are already facing? It

is not just evaluation, we need a

5:10:505:10:55

different way of evaluating the

debt, because it is fully funded

5:10:555:11:01

anyway, so it is a change in

legislation that is needed.

I do go

5:11:015:11:08

into that particular point in more

detail further on. Plumbers have

5:11:085:11:13

been checkmated by the legislation.

They have no room to manoeuvre, no

5:11:135:11:17

way out. Every move will trigger

employer debt and bring it crashing

5:11:175:11:21

down on them and their livelihoods.

The damage to some of their mental

5:11:215:11:25

health, physical health, family life

and security cannot be overstated.

5:11:255:11:31

When constituents appear at my

surgeries, their levels of

5:11:315:11:35

desperation were evident. For many

plumbers, the only option is to

5:11:355:11:39

carry on, defer retirement, even

take second jobs in the hope that

5:11:395:11:42

some relief comes before it is too

late. These are not fat cats trying

5:11:425:11:46

to avoid paying their June. For

years they have dutifully paid into

5:11:465:11:51

the scheme. They want nothing more

than to give employees a decent

5:11:515:11:55

pension, a principle I stand by and

I know this government stands for,

5:11:555:12:00

too. I will give way.

I congratulate

her on securing this important

5:12:005:12:06

debate. She is speaking about the

impact on her constituents and I am

5:12:065:12:12

sure she will recognise that my

constituency has some of the highest

5:12:125:12:16

number of plumbers affected by this

problem. Does she agree that they

5:12:165:12:21

need answers sooner rather than

later? The biggest problem is the

5:12:215:12:25

amount they are facing, but also the

uncertainty. The longer it goes on,

5:12:255:12:30

the worse it is for them, their

employees and their families.

I

5:12:305:12:37

completely agree, and that is why

when I go through my recommendations

5:12:375:12:41

for government I will also urge for

these actions to be taken with

5:12:415:12:45

immediate effect, so we can

alleviate the pressure on the

5:12:455:12:49

plumbers in constituencies across

the country. I understand that this

5:12:495:12:55

is a complex system and that we

should be wary of making changes

5:12:555:12:59

hastily, lest they have unintended

consequences of their own. We do not

5:12:595:13:04

want to solve this crisis by

creating another one, let alone

5:13:045:13:08

inadvertently making matters worse.

Likewise, I recognise and support

5:13:085:13:12

the principle behind employer debt.

We do not want to open the door to

5:13:125:13:17

companies to be able to walk away

from a pension scheme and dump

5:13:175:13:20

liabilities on other employers.

Nonetheless, the system is not

5:13:205:13:24

working as intended. None of those

who contributed to the legislation

5:13:245:13:27

as it stands today would have

envisaged creating a system which

5:13:275:13:32

has left ordinary plumbers facing

seven figure bills when they try to

5:13:325:13:37

retire. This is self evidently not

the way it was meant to work. There

5:13:375:13:42

is a case to be made for recognising

the unique situation of the plumbers

5:13:425:13:47

pension scheme. More flexibility

would be welcome, especially with

5:13:475:13:51

respect of the buyout basis, uncle

freighted businesses and or fund

5:13:515:13:56

liabilities. One could perhaps make

the pension protected fund a

5:13:565:14:00

guarantor of last resort for schemes

and liabilities, as is currently the

5:14:005:14:04

case in single employer schemes, Sir

-- so that the orphan liabilities

5:14:045:14:09

are not included when calculating

the section 75 employer debt. The

5:14:095:14:14

scheme is well funded and is on

course to make payments in full, so

5:14:145:14:20

there is little chance that the PPS

role as a guarantor would ever come

5:14:205:14:24

into play. There must be a solution

to this crisis and it should address

5:14:245:14:28

the fact that the pension scheme

includes businesses where the

5:14:285:14:32

owner's house and life savings are

at risk. One option could be to help

5:14:325:14:35

the plumbers seeking to avoid

personal ruin by incorporating their

5:14:355:14:42

businesses, by removing the funding

test requirement from the flexible

5:14:425:14:46

apportionment arrangement

regulations in such cases. Likewise,

5:14:465:14:50

a solution should address the

unfairness of employers having to

5:14:505:14:54

pay for liabilities incurred by

employers who left before 2005, who

5:14:545:14:58

did not need to pay anything when

they left. I understand the

5:14:585:15:03

government recently consulted on a

deferred date arrangement to allow

5:15:035:15:06

employers in pension schemes like

this to defer payment of an employer

5:15:065:15:10

debt in certain cases, and I am

aware that the Green paper on

5:15:105:15:14

security and sustainability in

defined benefit pension schemes has

5:15:145:15:18

looked into the issues of

unincorporated liability and orphan

5:15:185:15:25

liabilities, and a White Paper is

coming soon. I hope the government

5:15:255:15:29

is looking into all options as to

how we can get justice and peace of

5:15:295:15:33

mind for plumbers, and that it will

not delay in making the necessary

5:15:335:15:37

changes to the system. The sooner

this crisis is resolved, the better.

5:15:375:15:42

It is also worth reflecting on the

issue of raising awareness amongst

5:15:425:15:46

more businesses of section 75

employer debt. Many plumbers

5:15:465:15:50

affected by this issue were unaware

that they could be made liable for

5:15:505:15:53

such vast quantities of money. That

is not right. We should aim to

5:15:535:15:58

ensure that in future small-business

owners enter pension schemes with

5:15:585:16:02

their eyes open, properly informed

of any changes in legislation and

5:16:025:16:07

their potential consequences. To

conclude, the situation facing many

5:16:075:16:12

plumbers is wholly unjust.

Small-business owners who have done

5:16:125:16:14

nothing wrong are being penalised by

the unintended consequences of

5:16:145:16:18

legislation as it currently stands.

We need action to ensure the system

5:16:185:16:23

works as intended and delivers

relief and justice to upstanding

5:16:235:16:26

plumbers who, through no fault of

their own, are going into 2018 with

5:16:265:16:31

a vast liability hanging over their

heads. I urge the government to take

5:16:315:16:35

the actions I have outlined today.

5:16:355:16:49

Madam Deputy Speaker, first of all I

would like to commend my honourable

5:16:495:16:53

friend for securing this debate. I

have been listening to the

5:16:535:16:58

contributions she and her colleagues

have made. I would like to provide

5:16:585:17:02

some reassurance, some action that

is being taken, and some answers to

5:17:025:17:07

the individual solutions she has so

sensibly set out today. My

5:17:075:17:12

appointment last June, I have spoken

to and written to several colleagues

5:17:125:17:16

in this House who have made

representations on behalf of their

5:17:165:17:22

constituents, and they utterly

recognise it is a worrying situation

5:17:225:17:25

for the employers in the scheme and

also for the individual pensioners

5:17:255:17:29

themselves who are so affected. The

previous Pensions Minister committed

5:17:295:17:33

to look at this issue specifically

following previous debates, and we

5:17:335:17:39

set out some matters in our green

paper which was published in 2017.

5:17:395:17:42

We will be setting out the response

to that in a White Paper shortly,

5:17:425:17:47

and although I cannot say in advance

what the white Paper will feign

5:17:475:17:51

detail, I will address some of the

issues she has raised and attempt to

5:17:515:17:56

demonstrate the difficulties that we

face in what is clearly a very

5:17:565:17:59

compact area. Can we first of

address who this matter affects us

5:17:595:18:04

that there are affectively four to

five parties in this. There are the

5:18:045:18:10

employers who continue to be

involved in the scheme. There are

5:18:105:18:13

the trustees who are responsible for

ensuring that the pension scheme is

5:18:135:18:16

run properly and the members

benefits are secure. There are also

5:18:165:18:21

more specifically the members

themselves. They have worked hard to

5:18:215:18:24

build up a pension and they deserve

to have it paid in full. And I

5:18:245:18:29

should also mention the PPF, the

pension protection fund provides

5:18:295:18:34

vital protection for members of a

pension scheme whose employer

5:18:345:18:40

becomes insolvent. However, the

pension protection fund is funded by

5:18:405:18:44

levy payers who are other pension

schemes and their sponsoring

5:18:445:18:47

employers. So any changes would have

a wide impact on the financial levy

5:18:475:18:53

of other pension schemes and the

consequences for the amount that

5:18:535:18:57

they would have to pay. On any

interpretation, this is a complex

5:18:575:19:04

situation, and building up a

consensus solution that is fair and

5:19:045:19:08

equitable to wall is extremely

challenging. And we have to be

5:19:085:19:12

conscious that this scheme is one of

many multi-employer schemes, and

5:19:125:19:18

that any changes for this particular

scheme, however worthy and important

5:19:185:19:23

it may be, has consequences in some

shape or form for other schemes. So

5:19:235:19:28

I think it is important to remind

honourable colleagues as to the

5:19:285:19:32

background of this, and why the

original legislation was introduced

5:19:325:19:37

to protect members' pensions and

were then strengthened in 2005. A

5:19:375:19:42

key principle is that employers

cannot walk away from their

5:19:425:19:45

obligations, if they have promised a

pension to their employees. Before

5:19:455:19:49

they do so, they must assure that

members pensions are paid in full.

5:19:495:19:59

In a single employer scheme, this

would be through buyout with an

5:19:595:20:02

insurance company. A similar

arrangement in a multi-employer

5:20:025:20:04

scheme, as we have here, is the

payment of an employer debt. This

5:20:045:20:06

helps ensure that members receive

pensions they have worked for all

5:20:065:20:09

were promised when their own or

former employer ceases to

5:20:095:20:14

participate in the scheme. The

current regime is also designed to

5:20:145:20:18

protect those employers who remain

in the scheme, who also party to

5:20:185:20:21

this particular problem. And who

would be left to pick up the

5:20:215:20:26

shortfall left by departing

employers. The Government estimates

5:20:265:20:30

that there are around 25 other

multi-employer schemes, similar in

5:20:305:20:35

design to be plumbers' pension

scheme. It is difficult to consider

5:20:355:20:41

specific legislation to consider one

particular scheme's problems,

5:20:415:20:45

especially since 2005, many similar

such schemes have paid their section

5:20:455:20:52

75 debts and complied with the

legislation that is presently set

5:20:525:20:54

out. This includes employers who

were personally liable for any debt

5:20:545:21:01

they may have owed. To comply with

legislation, the debt should be

5:21:015:21:09

calculated when individual employers

ceased to participate in a

5:21:095:21:13

multi-employer scheme. It is a

regret that since 2005, the trustees

5:21:135:21:17

of the plumbers' scheme have been

unable to calculate or collect the

5:21:175:21:22

debts. So the scheme has not been

able to provide any reassurance on

5:21:225:21:28

the level of debts. It is important

that all concerned do not create any

5:21:285:21:33

and Ferry anxiety by speculating

about the size of any potential

5:21:335:21:37

debts before they are calculated. I

am pleased that this week the scheme

5:21:375:21:42

itself that we are concerned with

has announced plans to consult on a

5:21:425:21:48

methodology for calculating debts in

February. Now, that in my view is

5:21:485:21:52

long overdue. It is vital that this

work is now done urgently, so that

5:21:525:21:58

all concerned, on all aspects of

this particular scheme, on all sides

5:21:585:22:03

of the scheme, can work together to

agree a way forward with employers

5:22:035:22:07

affected by this issue. However, I

do want to use this debate to try

5:22:075:22:11

and suggest possible solutions, and

answered the laudable

5:22:115:22:17

recommendations made by my

honourable friend in her outstanding

5:22:175:22:20

speech. Employer debt legislation

applies to all schemes, not just the

5:22:205:22:26

plumbers, and the Government is

fully aware of the issues employers

5:22:265:22:30

have faced complying with this

legislation. A significant number of

5:22:305:22:34

changes have been made to

legislation in response to

5:22:345:22:37

representations made by employers,

where only part of the debt or no

5:22:375:22:41

debt may be payable. These

arrangements are in current

5:22:415:22:44

legislation, are available, are and

being used right now. I know

5:22:445:22:49

colleagues represent plumbers who

may be personally liable and are

5:22:495:22:52

genuinely worried, my honourable

friend set out an example, about

5:22:525:23:00

potentially losing their home. It is

worth pointing out that the majority

5:23:005:23:04

of employers in this scheme are

limited companies and are protected

5:23:045:23:08

by having limited liability.

However, I would like to turn to the

5:23:085:23:13

situation regarding unincorporated

and incorporated employers. For

5:23:135:23:17

those who may be potentially

personally liable, there is already

5:23:175:23:21

legislation which could assist. And

incorporated employer is in a

5:23:215:23:25

situation whereby their personal

assets are protected. Employer debt

5:23:255:23:29

valuation is not required in order

for an employer to become

5:23:295:23:32

incorporated. So the right

honourable member mentioned the

5:23:325:23:39

flexible apportionment arrangement

in her speech. This is already

5:23:395:23:42

available in legislation and can be

used to help unincorporated

5:23:425:23:49

employers incorporate without

triggering an employer debt. This

5:23:495:23:55

arrangement has already been used by

employers in this plumbers' scheme,

5:23:555:23:59

and it is one of the arrangements

that could be used to help

5:23:595:24:04

unincorporated employers, some of

whom I mentioned in correspondence

5:24:045:24:07

to me, and also in the debate this

afternoon, providing the scheme

5:24:075:24:11

itself is no worse off from

perspective. I want to answer my

5:24:115:24:16

honourable friend's point, made in

her speech as to the funding test.

5:24:165:24:21

The Government believes it would be

wrong to remove the funding test, as

5:24:215:24:25

it provides an important protection

both members and the remaining

5:24:255:24:28

employers. The plumbing pension

trustee has a streamlined FAA

5:24:285:24:40

process in place already helping

smaller employers who wish to

5:24:405:24:43

incorporate. Individuals who want

more detail on this should contact

5:24:435:24:47

the plumbing pension scheme to

discuss their situation and whether

5:24:475:24:52

and FAA can help. I would urge

specific individuals worried about

5:24:525:24:57

their liability to contact the

scheme to discuss this in more

5:24:575:25:01

detail. Once these debts have been

calculated, the scheme trustees can

5:25:015:25:06

also use their discretion about

whether they do or do not pursue a

5:25:065:25:09

debt when they expect doing so would

represent a disproportionate cost of

5:25:095:25:13

the scheme itself. I turned the key

issue of the deferred payment

5:25:135:25:20

scheme? We have recently consulted

on regulations including a new

5:25:205:25:24

deferred debt arrangement, that

would enable employers in

5:25:245:25:28

multi-employee pension schemes, to

defer the requirement to pay a debt

5:25:285:25:33

in some circumstances. This is a

further tool in the arm of those who

5:25:335:25:36

are affected by this particular

problem. We aim to introduce these

5:25:365:25:43

regulations in April, which will

provide valuable breathing space for

5:25:435:25:45

employers, so they can consider

their options on how to meet their

5:25:455:25:49

obligations. The issue of

liabilities was raised and those who

5:25:495:25:52

relate to members whose employers no

longer participate in the scheme,

5:25:525:25:55

and I'm aware that this scheme would

like to exclude orphan liabilities

5:25:555:25:59

from the calculation of employer

debt. That requirement is common to

5:25:595:26:06

all multi-employer schemes and is an

integral part of member protection.

5:26:065:26:11

I understand that the scheme has

substantial orphan liabilities from

5:26:115:26:15

employers who have departed it, but

it is important to note that these

5:26:155:26:19

liabilities are dated from the

period of time both pre-and

5:26:195:26:25

post-2000 and five. Changing

legislation to enable schemes to

5:26:255:26:29

accept less money, when they are

underfunded simply passes more risk

5:26:295:26:32

members as it moves to scheme is

further away from being able to

5:26:325:26:36

secure members' benefits in full. I

await the White Paper, but the

5:26:365:26:42

Government's provisional view as it

would not be right or fair to pass

5:26:425:26:46

this burden onto the PPF and its

levy payers who are of course other

5:26:465:26:51

pension schemes and their sponsoring

employers who have no connection

5:26:515:26:54

with or responsibility to this

scheme. I should also point out that

5:26:545:26:59

the legislation only you require is

departing employers to pass

5:26:595:27:03

efficient debt to secure benefits in

full. To answer the point raised by

5:27:035:27:08

several people in relation to the

funding of the scheme, in 2014, as

5:27:085:27:15

an ongoing technical provision, the

scheme is funded to the tune of

5:27:155:27:19

101%. But on a buyout basis, it was

deficient by 25%, hence the

5:27:195:27:25

difference in the valuation and come

pension on that particular point,

5:27:255:27:28

which answers the point raised by

the honourable gentleman for

5:27:285:27:33

Kilmarnock as well. In the

circumstances, it is accepted

5:27:335:27:36

entirely that this is a very complex

area in which there is no quick fix

5:27:365:27:41

and no solution is pain-free. It is

only right that any changes are

5:27:415:27:45

carefully thought through, that they

are proportionate and justified. The

5:27:455:27:50

Green paper explored many issues

facing DBE schemes, in particular

5:27:505:27:57

consolidation could provide a

long-term solution, for schemes

5:27:575:28:00

which are unable to afford a full

buyout. Further work has been done

5:28:005:28:04

in relation to this and it would not

be right to pre-empt the outcome of

5:28:045:28:07

the work in this debate, but the

White Paper will be delivered in the

5:28:075:28:12

fullness of time relatively shortly.

In the circumstances, Madam Deputy

5:28:125:28:18

Speaker... I will give way very

briefly.

I appreciate he says the

5:28:185:28:24

White Paper will come shortly. Can

you say how soon and what the

5:28:245:28:28

timescale would be factual

legislation after that because that

5:28:285:28:32

is the important thing, and I am

also bringing forward a 10 Minute

5:28:325:28:35

Rule Bill on this and I would be

happy to work with the Government on

5:28:355:28:38

some aspect if he is willing to do

that?

The honourable gentleman asked

5:28:385:28:42

me three questions and I will write

to him in a bit more detail because

5:28:425:28:46

I have limited time available to me.

The White Paper will be delivered at

5:28:465:28:51

some stage this spring. Spring is an

elastic term as he will understand

5:28:515:28:58

in the House of Commons, but it will

certainly before the summer that the

5:28:585:29:01

White Paper will be delivered. I

look forward to his 10 Minute Rule

5:29:015:29:05

Bill. To be fair to my honourable

friend from Angus, she set out a

5:29:055:29:09

number of positive solutions, some

of which we have been able to take

5:29:095:29:13

forward, but it is certainly the

case that I am aware in an all-party

5:29:135:29:17

parliament should group that I will

be happy to meet with and discuss in

5:29:175:29:20

more detail. I will be writing to

individual colleagues with more

5:29:205:29:23

detail of what we have discussed

today. I want to finish by making

5:29:235:29:28

the point that I would like to

congratulate my honourable friend

5:29:285:29:31

for bringing what is a very, very

important matter, and I want to make

5:29:315:29:36

it absolutely clear that we accept

that this is a complex and very

5:29:365:29:40

upsetting situation for many of our

constituents. We have all had the

5:29:405:29:45

situation where individuals attend

upon us with a pile of papers and

5:29:455:29:49

say, please help me sort this out. I

appreciate this problem and I also

5:29:495:29:53

welcome the fact that she has taken

the time to bring her constituents'

5:29:535:29:59

concerns to this House. I hope I

have provided some real comfort on

5:29:595:30:03

what we are doing right now, some

real aspiration of what we feel is

5:30:035:30:07

coming in April, and an opportunity

for individual constituents to

5:30:075:30:11

discuss the problems that are raised

because we take this matter very

5:30:115:30:14

seriously.

The question is that this

House do now adjourned. As many as

5:30:145:30:20

are of the opinion, say "aye". To

the contrary, "no". The ayes have

5:30:205:30:24

it, the ayes have it. Order, order.

5:30:245:30:32

Live coverage of the day's proceedings in the House of Commons, including a select committee statement on the education committee's report on fostering, as well as a backbench business motion paying tribute to the Armed Forces and calling for the maintenance of the current levels of serving personnel.