Live Defence Questions House of Commons


Live Defence Questions

Live coverage of questions in the House of Commons to the defence secretary Gavin Williamson and his team of ministers.


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round-up of the day in both houses

of parliament from 11pm. First,

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questions to the Defence Secretary,

Gavin Williamson, and his

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ministerial team.

Secretary of State

for Defence, Mr Jim Shannon.

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Question number one.

Secretary of

State for Defence, Gavin Williamson.

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We take the cyber threat seriously.

We are strengthening defences

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against increasingly sophisticated

attacks. Our approach to cyber

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defence includes a wide range of

technical, operational and

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administrative measures. As well as

close corporation with the National

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cyber Security Centre. This week we

are opening a dedicated,

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state-of-the-art cyber defence

school at the defence Academy to

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enhance cyber skills of defence

personnel.

Jim Shannon.

I think the

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secretary of State for his reply.

There were 762 3C attacks, so can

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the Secretary of State outline how

his department is being shored up in

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the light of rising Russian

aggression and increasing cyber

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attacks?

The honourable gentleman is

right to highlight this increasing

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threat and that is why we have

announced plans to spend £1.9

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billion over five years in making

sure the cyber defence is right and

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also make sure we develop

capabilities, not just to defend

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against attack, but also to

operationalise this ourselves.

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Britain's forces are a major force

in the Baltic states. At a recent

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meeting of the Nato Parliamentary

assembly we heard of some of the

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malign attacks made on those forces,

particularly the German deployment

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in Lithuanian. I'm not asking my

right honourable friend to give me

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great detail, because it might be

secret, but can he give the house

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assurance we are learning from every

attack taking place and we are

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training people down at quite a low

level to ensure forces are best

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equipped to deal with this.

I think

it's a very important point. It's

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not just about the work we do

centrally. It's about training our

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forces to best understand the

threats they will be potentially

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exposed to as they are operating in

increasingly hostile fields. This is

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something we have done in terms of

all troops engaged in Nato

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operations and more globally as

well.

Local authorities can be

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vulnerable to cyber attacks. One in

four councils including East

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Berkshire have experienced cyber

security incidents but many do not

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even provide mandatory training on

cyber security. What discussions has

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he had with the Department for

Communities and Local Government and

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devolved administrations to make

sure local communities do not become

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a soft target for cyber attacks.

This is part of the reason why we

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set up the National cyber Security

Centre, to make sure all elements of

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government are working together and

tackling this issue. The point the

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right Honourable Lady raises is one

I will take up with the Secretary of

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State for Department communities and

local government to highlight the

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threats and challenges local

government faces.

Traditionally

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young men and women joined the Armed

Forces in large part because of the

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physical challenge and desire for

combat experience. Shouldn't we

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increasingly be recruiting young men

and women because of their digital

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and IT proficiency so we can develop

an elite group of cyber specialists?

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I think as we face new challenges

going forward we have to be

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realistic that we need a whole

different range of skills, not just

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the traditional skills that have

been the backbone of our Armed

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Forces, but new skills and we are

looking at how we can best recruit

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those into our Armed Forces. And not

just into the regulars but also into

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reserves.

Surely the Secretary of

State knows that what Mr Putin

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announced a few days ago was

basically a new Cold War. It's not

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just cyber warfare, it's every kind

of warfare, at a time when Europe

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seems to be fragment in. Our

commitment to Nato is deeply hurt by

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Donald Trump moving into a new phase

of withdrawal. What will we do about

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all this?

So, Putin has made it

quite clear that he has hostile

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intent towards this country. We have

been seeing the build-up of his

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forces across the Eastern front, and

in terms of what they are doing over

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many years now, we have to wake up

to that threat and respond to it.

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It's not just through nuclear

weapons. Our continuous at sea

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nuclear deterrent is absolutely

integral to maintaining peace, but

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it's also through conventional Armed

Forces. We have to match what Putin

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is doing with Russian forces. We

have to be aware of the challenges

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they face and that is very much why

we are engaging in modernising the

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defence programme to ensure we can

match the Russians going forward.

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Ross Thompson.

Question number two.

Secretary of State.

With permission,

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Mr Speaker, I would like to answer

questions two and seven together.

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The US and United Kingdom enjoy a

strategic global partnership. This

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was forged through shared values and

belief in freedom, the rule of law

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and order, and reinforced by mutual

history, partnership and military

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cooperation. The UK defence

cooperation is today the broadest,

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deepest and most advanced of any two

countries. Our collaboration extends

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across the full spectrum of defence,

including operations and flagship

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capability programmes. Our troops

have fought alongside each other for

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over 100 years. And 2018 will be

another busy year.

Ross Thompson.

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Thank you Mr Speaker, and I thank my

right honourable friend for his

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answer. Currently the UK's defence

trade partnership with the US is

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worth over $3 billion including

collaboration projects such as the

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S35 programme and the common

compartment for the ballistic

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submarines. Does the UK regaining

its ability to strike free trade

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deals across the globe post Brexit,

we have the opportunity to deepen

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the bonds of our special

relationship with the US when it

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comes to national defence interests?

We already one of the world's

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leading countries in terms of

defence exports and we have to seize

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the opportunities that exiting the

European Union provides in order to

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expand the ability to export right

around the world. Making sure it's

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absolutely clear Britain is a world

leader in technology and science,

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and so much of what we do

historically with the United States

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is something we can do more and more

right around the globe.

Can I

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implore my right honourable friend

not to listen to the Trump bashing

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opposite. There is absolutely no

indication whatsoever that President

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Trump is attenuating his commitment

to Nato. Can I further say to my

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right honourable friend, that Nato

is the backbone, not the European

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Union, of this nation's defence. And

he should be, and I know that he is,

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going out there to Washington,

speaking to his counterparts, and

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can he talk about precisely what he

has achieved. Sorry about that!

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LAUGHTER

I thought my honourable friend was

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incredibly elegant. Let's be

absolutely clear, there is one

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reason that we have had peace right

across the continent of Europe since

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the Second World War, and that's

down to the North Atlantic Treaty

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Organisation. And the fact it has

acted as deterrents against those

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who wished to prosecute aggressive

campaigns against the West. I am

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very proud of the work that has been

done and will be done in the future

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with our allies.

David Hanson.

That

the Secretary of State to tell me

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what was the pound and dollar rate

at the time of the commissioning of

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the S35 programme, what is it now,

and how much taxpayer's extra money

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is being commissioned as a result?

I'm afraid I don't have the exchange

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rates with me, but I will write to

the honourable gentleman with those

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exchange rates. The changes in terms

of exchange rates over the last few

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years have cost about a quarter of

£1 billion extra for the defence

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budget as a result of the pound

moving.

Jonathan Edwards.

The US

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nuclear posturing was met with an

equal amount of posturing from

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President Putin in his State of the

nation address. What is the

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Minister's response as the world

slides into a new Cold War.

Let's be

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really clear, President Putin has

been developing a much more hostile

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and aggressive posture towards the

United Kingdom, towards the United

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States, towards our allies, for an

awful lot longer than the last 12

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months. They want to assert their

rights, you have seen increased

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Russian activity in the North

Atlantic. A tenfold increase in the

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last few years. Do we sit

submissively bike? Do we just accept

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that President Putin can do whatever

he wishes to do, or do we have to

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look at how we respond and make it

clear that we are not willing to

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stand up to bullying? The fact

nations are being subjected to

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attacks by Russia, we need to deal

with that, that's what we will do,

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and that's why I am proud we have a

continuous at sea nuclear deterrent.

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Would my right honourable friend in

from the house were discussions he

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has with his US counterpart so we

work together to ensure other Nato

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allies pay the 2% of GDP they should

be paying towards collective

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defence?

In this country I am proud

to be able to say we spent 2% of GDP

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on defence. But we cannot outsource

the defence of Europe to the United

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States. Every European country has

to play its part in terms of

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defending Europe, and that means

spending the money required in order

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to defend the borders of western

Europe.

Can I begin by paying

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tribute to the members of the Armed

Forces who helped their country get

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moving as much as it could over the

week. How confident can the

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Secretary of State, his US

counterpart, or indeed any Nato

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counterpart be that we can bring

what we say we can bring to the

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table when there is a £20 billion

funding gap in his department?

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What we are doing we are looking at

what resources are needed in terms

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of going forward and we carry

considerable contingencies in terms

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of our equipment plan and we are

very competent we can deliver

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everything we need for our Armed

Forces. -- confident for the.

That

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is a head in the sand answer, it was

said that projects would have to be

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scaled back or an accountant, will

he assure us that no project in

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Scotland will suffer this?

I'm sure

the gentleman is where we are doing

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a modernising defence programme and

he will be pleased that we opened up

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our public consultation as part of

this programme and we are going to

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be looking at all of what we do, how

best we can use our Armed Forces to

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deliver for the whole of the UK and

make sure that we are best protected

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against the threat from abroad and

other forward to the gentlemen's

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contribution. -- I look forward.

Question three.

Minister Mark

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Lancaster.

The Royal Navy is going

for the first time in a generation

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with the aircraft carriers, news of

dreams and frigates and patrol

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vessels and aircraft, and the Royal

Navy continues to respond to the

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demand be placed upon them and

maintain their operational edge --

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with you submarines.

The nation has

lost a third of our ships, and in

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uncertain times, can the minister

give people in Plymouth the visuals

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that Devonport will not have any

more cuts to frigates in the

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upcoming review?

I take this

opportunity to underline and thank

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the people of Plymouth for their age

commitment and support to the Royal

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Navy and I can absolutely sure the

gentleman that Devonport will

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continue to be one of the

Cornerstone basis of the Royal Navy

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in the future and he will be aware

that only recently we allocated the

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location of the type 23 frigates and

we are doing will work with the type

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26 and we hope to announce that

shortly.

I must declare an interest,

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my grandfather and father in the

world maybe and I can say they would

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be telling in their grave at the

size of the Royal Navy -- turning.

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Would the minister except that the

threats around the world are

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growing, not least with China, which

is seldom talked about, and I know

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we are sending one ship across the

waters to South Tanna, can I ask him

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for assurance that the Royal Navy

will be increased? -- South China.

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You will be aware of the recent

deployment of HMS Sutherland and

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they will be further deployments in

the future to that part of the

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world, but what I will say to him,

for the first time in a generation

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the Royal Navy is actually growing

and it grew in manpower last year

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and will continue to grow over the

next couple of years but also not

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just in manpower but also growing in

its surface fleet size, the latest

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arrived in Portsmouth only this

weekend.

Given everything his boss

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has said about the portals of Nato,

and the deterrent of the threat of

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Russia, it would be unthinkable,

would it not, not to audit the full

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quota of seven S class submarines.

The honourable man is a champion for

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his constituency and he frequently

comes to support the programme of

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work which is considering seat has

-- which his constituency has

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continued to build submarines for

generations and I'm very confident

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that shortly the gentleman will have

the news he wishes.

When H mess

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Queen Elizabeth goes to sea it will

lead a free to protect it -- HMS.

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Can the minister reassure the house

that the Royal Navy has this

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protection question --?

Yes, the

Royal Navy continues to meet its

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operational requirements and as I

have said a few moments ago, the

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size of our fleet will increase in

years to come.

The minister will be

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aware that the National Audit Office

has released a scathing report of

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the equipment plan until 2027, and

it says there is a £20.8 billion

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gaping black hole in the MoD's

budget but can the minister tell me

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what it is that the type 31 E

frigates are not even referred to in

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the equipment plan?

It is a bit

rich, when the honourable gentleman

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comes to the dispatch box to

criticise this government when it

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comes to black holes in defence

spending, given the record of the

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last Labour government in this area.

But I'm sure that my honourable

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friend will write to the gentleman

to explain why this is the case.

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Question number four.

With

permission, I would like to answer

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question four. With the bigger plan

worth £180 billion over ten years,

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the rise in the defence budget,

there are a range of supplies to

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work with the Mehdi, and we recently

had an event reaching out to the

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defence sector entrepreneurs,

increasing opportunities to work

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with governments.

In my constituency

there is a leading supplier of

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fabrics, which are designed to keep

our service personnel safe and well

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protected in the field, what is my

friend doing to support businesses

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within the defence Supply chain that

manufacture technical textiles and

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would he consider visiting this

company to see for themselves be

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innovative work being carried out in

support of our Armed Forces?

Thank

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you for that question and indeed I

would like to take you up on the

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kind offer to meet this company who

are an important provider of

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services to the MoD, and I think

this is a classic example of a

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company which is generating key

supplies for the MoD for our armed

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service and being innovative in the

way they do that and that innovation

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is something that we see across the

board with MoD contracts, innovative

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in terms of the UK economy.

Does the

minister agree that the launch of

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the REF's first satellite is to be

welcomed -- RAF. And we'll space

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technology be part of the combat air

strategy? -- will.

I was very

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disappointed not to have visited the

company who developed the facility

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because of the weather last

Thursday, but this is a significant

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development, this is an example of

innovative thinking being developed

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by the MoD and the force and even

more important, this was a concept

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only ten months ago but it has now

been delivered, and as part of the

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come at a strategy, the way we

interlinked with satellite

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technology will be a key aspect.

The

minister made a welcome visit to Bae

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incher mustered which has played a

key role in developing radar

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technology through the generations

-- Bae in Chelmsford. Does the

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minister agree that it is vital to

maintain British capacity and make

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sure that these skills stay in

Britain?

I thank you for that

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question and I also pay tribute to

the work being done in your

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constituency by Bae and she is right

to highlight the importance of

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keeping skills in the UK and that is

why we should all be proud across

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all parts of this house that the

Ministry of Defence is responsible

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for over 20,000 apprenticeship

opportunities throughout the UK and

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it highlights again BMA -- the MoD

procurement leads to high quality

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jobs all through the UK including

Chelmsford.

If the UK withdraws from

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the European reach chemical

regulations and the free movement of

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scientists and engineers is not part

of the Brexit agreement, defence

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companies have expressed concerns

over this.

I thank you for that

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question and I think we can agree

that the free movement of people

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with relevant skills is something

the government would like to see

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continue, but in relation to the

rich issue this is an issue that the

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MoD is already engaging with -- the

reach issue for them is a meeting

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about this tomorrow, as it happens,

and this is a subject that the MoD

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is top on but I can understand the

question, but I feel we will have

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these deals shortly.

... Also in my

honourable friend's clan

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would be minister commit to speaking

with his colleagues at the

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Department for Transport and perhaps

meeting with me to make sure they

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get the support from the whole of

government to export to other

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markets including the United States?

Again, I would be delighted to meet

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with you to discuss this issue in

more detail and I was pleased to

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visit the company in question in my

previous position and it was

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difficult not to be impressed with

what they provide for our Armed

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Forces and any opportunity to

support Welsh businesses moving

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forward, I would be more than happy

to take on.

This offers the

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framework through which we can

achieve innovation with different

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suppliers, Izzy considering agreeing

more portfolio agreements question

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not -- is he.

That is a very

important but not one of the first

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meetings I had in my new position

was with MBTA, and that agreement is

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an example of what can be done in

terms of innovation in how we reach

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procurement, it means a degree of

partnership between the MoD and the

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businesses in question.

May I also

welcome the combat Ester today and

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could be minister give a commitment

that this review will look to make

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sure the RAF have the equipment they

need for the complex of the future

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but a look at how British industry

will deliver -- conflicts.

My

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honourable friend is a great

champion of the RAF and I know this

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was a issue that he called for

before the announcement was made and

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indeed it is about capability but it

is also about embedding the ability

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of UK industry to respond to the

needs of the 21st-century and I

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think the combat air strategy will

do that.

Mr speaker there is

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crippling uncertainty about the

customs arrangements that our

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defence supplies will face after

Brexit and this is threatening their

0:23:080:23:11

ability to innovate and invest, just

today the REF's biggest supplier of

0:23:110:23:17

large aircraft has warned that trade

barriers will seriously impede their

0:23:170:23:21

ability to move parts across borders

and it is clear that only a cobra

0:23:210:23:25

heads a customs union with the EU

can guarantee frictionless trade --

0:23:250:23:29

only eight comprehensive. Why has

the government ruled out this

0:23:290:23:34

option?

The government has been very

clear, we want the most

0:23:340:23:40

comprehensive free trade agreement

possible with the EU and that will

0:23:400:23:44

respond to the concerns of industry

and especially industries supplying

0:23:440:23:49

the defence sector.

The fact of the

matter is, a DS, the trade body,

0:23:490:23:56

said the government's preferred

options are either incomplete or so

0:23:560:23:59

complex basically won't be viable.

Why is it that the government will

0:23:590:24:03

not listen to the voices of industry

like a DS and why are they ignoring

0:24:030:24:09

those voices and ignoring their

support for a customs union? Is it

0:24:090:24:15

not the case that the government is

putting ideology above the interests

0:24:150:24:20

of defence supplies, pursuing an

extreme Brexit which will damage our

0:24:200:24:25

national sovereignty and security?

Only a few weeks ago the honourable

0:24:250:24:32

lady was voting against a

proposition from her own

0:24:320:24:35

backbenchers asking for the UK to

stay within the customs union, and

0:24:350:24:38

the announcement made by the Leader

of the Opposition was about staying

0:24:380:24:46

in a customs union but not the

customs union.

Number five, Mr

0:24:460:24:51

speaker.

Secretary of State.

Our

Armed Forces are amongst the best in

0:24:510:24:57

the world and to the modernising

defence programme we are assessing

0:24:570:25:02

the threats that the country faces

an understanding what we can do to

0:25:020:25:05

make them ever more effective at

keeping us safe and into the future

0:25:050:25:09

today.

The Defence Secretary will

recognise the threats that we face

0:25:090:25:16

from conventional and new forms of

technology are massive and varied

0:25:160:25:22

and not simply from Russia but from

many different sources and in that

0:25:220:25:26

context, can he tell us has the

Chancellor agreed to sign up to the

0:25:260:25:35

process?

When the Prime Minister and

the Chancellor and myself met we

0:25:350:25:41

agreed the terms of reference of the

modernising defence programme and we

0:25:410:25:44

are clear that it was not to be

fiscally neutral and we were to

0:25:440:25:50

understand what the threats were and

to understand the capabilities that

0:25:500:25:55

were needed and made sure that the

defence... The Ministry of Defence

0:25:550:26:00

leads the study to make sure we are

best equipped to deal with those

0:26:000:26:03

threats.

0:26:030:26:07

Can my right honourable friend

update the house on what progress

0:26:070:26:12

has been made on modernising the

defence review so we can ensure the

0:26:120:26:16

defence of the realm is safe?

I can

assure my honourable friend we are

0:26:160:26:21

making good progress. As I mentioned

earlier, we are opening it up to

0:26:210:26:25

public consultation. We are eager to

report back to the house as quickly

0:26:250:26:29

as possible. We would hope this can

be done by June or July, before the

0:26:290:26:34

Nato summit.

We have seen this week

our Armed Forces rise to the

0:26:340:26:42

challenge in any weather. In spite

of our increased commitments to the

0:26:420:26:46

Baltic states, cuts to training have

left the Royal Marines with fewer

0:26:460:26:51

opportunities to develop their cold

weather warfare skills. In January

0:26:510:26:55

the Minister for the Armed Forces

said offcuts to training exercises

0:26:550:26:59

in Norway, I am confident it was a

one off saving. Can the Secretary of

0:26:590:27:03

State confirm that training will

return to normal levels next year?

0:27:030:27:09

We have had 500 Royal Marines

already training out in Norway this

0:27:090:27:12

year. We look forward to continuing

that collaboration going forward.

0:27:120:27:19

It's right to say that our Armed

Forces are always ready to serve.

0:27:190:27:22

And when things are difficult it is

our Armed Forces that always step up

0:27:220:27:26

to the plate.

Question six.

Mr

Speaker, I was trying to off-load

0:27:260:27:39

various questions to my ministerial

colleagues. Sadly they were not

0:27:390:27:42

willing to take them! God loves a

try! I have regular conversations

0:27:420:27:54

with my UN and US counterparts on

maintaining defence cooperation

0:27:540:27:58

between the European Union and Nato.

The EU and Nato cooperation is key

0:27:580:28:03

to combating the breadth of

challenges we face and institutions

0:28:030:28:06

must work together in a way that is

complimentary and prevents

0:28:060:28:11

duplication. UK will continue to

support better working between the

0:28:110:28:16

EU and Nato while we remain in the

EU and we leave.

Thank you to the

0:28:160:28:22

Secretary of State for taking my

question on. Following the recent

0:28:220:28:27

signing of the permanent structure

cooperation pact between 25 EU

0:28:270:28:31

nations, what role does the

Secretary of State envisage for the

0:28:310:28:34

UK after Brexit and ensure the

future cooperation plans enhanced

0:28:340:28:38

Nato rather than detract from it?

I

think they have always had

0:28:380:28:43

traditional tensions within the

European Union, as to which way they

0:28:430:28:48

would like to take the European

Union's role in defence. But we want

0:28:480:28:53

to work with our European Union

partners and we mustn't forget that

0:28:530:28:58

80% of Nato's defence is provided by

countries outside of the European

0:28:580:29:04

Union. And we shouldn't see leaving

the European Union as a step towards

0:29:040:29:08

making the continent of Europe less

safe. Indeed, it's fair to say that

0:29:080:29:14

before the European Union was

invented, Nato was already doing

0:29:140:29:18

that incredibly successfully in the

decades before. I think we want to

0:29:180:29:24

have the opportunity to work closely

with our European Union partners but

0:29:240:29:29

we equally want to make sure it does

not detract away from the amazing

0:29:290:29:32

work Nato does.

The European defence

agency does not really envisage

0:29:320:29:40

third-party countries joining. Is

this one of the agencies you will be

0:29:400:29:44

seeking an administrative

arrangement with?

We are happy to

0:29:440:29:48

have discussions about how best we

can work with European partners. But

0:29:480:29:52

we do not want to do anything that

diminishes what we actually agreed

0:29:520:29:57

to on 23rd of June 2016, which is

exiting the EU. But if we can work

0:29:570:30:03

in a pragmatic way with European

partners, that's good. Let's not

0:30:030:30:07

forget, most of what we do in terms

of, let's say, equipment programmes.

0:30:070:30:13

It's done on a bilateral relations,

not the European Union.

The Armed

0:30:130:30:22

Forces covered an annual report

published in December of 2017. There

0:30:220:30:31

are more than 2000 companies signed

up. The cross of all body, the

0:30:310:30:36

veterans board chaired by the

defence, secretary is used to ensure

0:30:360:30:40

government departments meet their

covenant commitments. What I am

0:30:400:30:43

grateful to my right honourable

friend for the answer, but what

0:30:430:30:47

conversations does he have

in the

Ministry of Housing, communities and

0:30:470:30:52

local governments to ensure there is

better understanding in local

0:30:520:30:55

government of their duties,

obligations and what they need to do

0:30:550:30:58

under the covenant?

My honourable

friend raises an important point.

0:30:580:31:02

It's important each department

recognises and understands its own

0:31:020:31:07

commitments. That's why stress the

importance of the veterans board. We

0:31:070:31:14

have proper assessment techniques to

make sure that the commitments, in

0:31:140:31:18

this case to do with housing, are

met.

Mr Jones.

Thank you Mr Speaker.

0:31:180:31:27

People across this country and in

this house were horrified to read

0:31:270:31:32

last week that the Minister of

defence took money from the Libor

0:31:320:31:41

funds, and spent it on projects,

albeit worthy ones, that he should

0:31:410:31:46

be part of routine department

spending. We know things are bad in

0:31:460:31:49

the MOD but they can hardly consider

themselves a charity. Can the

0:31:490:31:52

Minister tell the house how this was

allowed to happen and more

0:31:520:31:57

importantly, will the department pay

the money back?

I also saw those

0:31:570:32:02

comments that were made in the

press. It's important to understand

0:32:020:32:07

that the grants are therefore

additional facilities. There is an

0:32:070:32:11

additional facility from the MOD to

provide core activities. There is a

0:32:110:32:14

great area in between. I am more

than happy to look at the details he

0:32:140:32:22

raises and will write to him.

Sir

Robert Sims.

Questioned nine.

May I

0:32:220:32:34

group this question with number 17.

The house will recall the flexible

0:32:340:32:39

working bill passed its third

reading of January 29 this year and

0:32:390:32:44

has received Royal assent allowing

regular Armed Forces personnel to

0:32:440:32:48

work part-time for a temporary

period, but this is subject to

0:32:480:32:52

operational capability of the

applicants' unit.

Can I thank the

0:32:520:32:58

Minister for his reply. In order to

retain people in the armed services

0:32:580:33:02

and recruit these days, it's

important to have more flexible

0:33:020:33:06

terms and conditions. How rapidly

does he think this will happen, now

0:33:060:33:09

or in two or three months?

It's

important to recognise that we need

0:33:090:33:17

to reflect the needs and aspirations

of civilian society as well. This

0:33:170:33:21

has already been introduced as

flexible capability. The process is

0:33:210:33:26

ongoing. It has received Royal

assent and will come into being in

0:33:260:33:29

April of 2019.

It's extremely

important that we continue to make

0:33:290:33:38

the Armed Forces a desirable career

through measures such as flexible

0:33:380:33:42

working. However, in Scotland, due

to the SNP government personnel will

0:33:420:33:48

be paying higher taxes than their

colleagues south of the border. Will

0:33:480:33:51

my honourable friends do all he can

to sort out this ill thought out

0:33:510:33:57

mess the SNP has created?

I am not

sure there is much more to add, than

0:33:570:34:00

an ill thought out mess.

Specifically on the conditions of

0:34:000:34:08

service, it's also right that

service men and women who come unfit

0:34:080:34:11

for duty should have Assistant to

support them that is fit for

0:34:110:34:18

service. It currently is not. The

Minister said his department would

0:34:180:34:22

publish a response. Where is it as

Jim White I will write to the

0:34:220:34:28

honourable lady with the details. --

where is it?

I will write to the

0:34:280:34:37

honourable lady with the details. We

have a mental health strategy that

0:34:370:34:41

will remove the stigma sometimes

attached to people coming forward to

0:34:410:34:44

make clear there is an issue to be

dealt with so they can get back to

0:34:440:34:48

the front line. I will write to the

honourable lady.

Many constituents

0:34:480:34:53

have given outstanding service to

our country and I've come to me with

0:34:530:34:56

mental health problems. How can we

ensure the conditions of service

0:34:560:35:00

also include post-service follow-up

to give these people the care they

0:35:000:35:03

need?

It leads me nicely on from the

answer I have just given. The mental

0:35:030:35:10

health strategy was brought in, it

was not working well before and

0:35:100:35:13

people were reluctant to come

forward. We now have 11 major

0:35:130:35:18

departments across Britain,

established in the main hubs of

0:35:180:35:21

where Armed Forces are actually

based designed to help and assist

0:35:210:35:24

those people step forward to deal

with mental health issues. We should

0:35:240:35:28

also recognise that we have the

launch of the Armed Forces military

0:35:280:35:32

mental health 24/7 Mac helpline last

week that allows direct access to

0:35:320:35:41

support.

Marcus Fysh.

Number Ten.

At

last month's Nato defence

0:35:410:35:50

ministerial we discussed

modernisation. This is a UK priority

0:35:500:35:55

and my priority is for a modern Nato

fit to face modern challenges that

0:35:550:35:59

is delivering against its

commitments. We will take further

0:35:590:36:02

commitments to modernise the

alliance when defence ministers

0:36:020:36:04

meets next in June and at the next

Nato summit in Brussels in July.

UK

0:36:040:36:15

defence equivalent manufactures can

bolt on to EU defence programmes.

0:36:150:36:19

For example, Leonardo and the

unmanned defence system is well

0:36:190:36:26

placed to help their Italian

counterparts. Can my right

0:36:260:36:31

honourable friend assure us that

such cooperation will happen without

0:36:310:36:34

the UK submitting to EU defence

operational and equipment investment

0:36:340:36:40

governance that might risk

undermining Nato?

Yes I can.

Jim

0:36:400:36:47

Cunningham.

12.

Pay rates are

recommended by the independent Armed

0:36:470:36:56

Forces pay review body. We look

forward to receiving their next step

0:36:560:37:00

of recommendations later this

spring. We have made it clear to all

0:37:000:37:04

personnel that any award once

announced will be backdated to one

0:37:040:37:07

April 2018.

Is the Minister of

defence actually saying that he pay

0:37:070:37:15

increase for the Armed Forces is

actually being delayed, and if so,

0:37:150:37:19

when does he intends to implement

it?

As I say, we are waiting for the

0:37:190:37:27

report to come through. It's

unfortunate that we have had to

0:37:270:37:30

introduce a pay restraint anyway. I

think we shouldn't lose sight of why

0:37:300:37:35

the pay restraint was introduced in

the first place. It's because the

0:37:350:37:38

last government was living beyond

its means and only with a return to

0:37:380:37:41

a strong economy can we responsibly

increase public sector pay.

Last

0:37:410:37:48

week we saw how our Armed Forces

stepped up to deal with the chaos

0:37:480:37:54

caused by the very challenging

weather conditions. Does the

0:37:540:37:58

Minister not therefore agree that

these brave men and women deserve

0:37:580:38:02

more than 1% pay rise, which is in

fact a real terms pay cut? And will

0:38:020:38:08

he make that clear to the pay review

body?

It works the other way round,

0:38:080:38:13

but I do agree with them, I would

like to see an increase of more than

0:38:130:38:17

1%. I go back to the rather delicate

point, received with some hostility

0:38:170:38:22

from the other side, we can't lose

sight of the fact that we have to do

0:38:220:38:25

have a responsibility in making sure

we have a strong economy so we can

0:38:250:38:31

increase public sector pay across

the board. If I may, Mr Speaker,

0:38:310:38:35

underline the wider point I made

last week, that without strong

0:38:350:38:39

defence in this fast changing and

dangerous world, a strong economy

0:38:390:38:42

can't be guaranteed. That's why I

said that 2% GDP on defence is not

0:38:420:38:48

enough. Thanks to the efforts of

this Defence Secretary we now have

0:38:480:38:52

an opportunity to make the case, to

put the argument through the defence

0:38:520:38:56

modernisation programme for a more

robust defence posture that ensures

0:38:560:39:03

access to the markets that will help

our economy.

Question 13.

The UK has

0:39:030:39:12

a key role in Nato's enhanced... By

leading a battle group in Estonia

0:39:120:39:18

and contributing to a US-led battle

group in Poland. We have deployed

0:39:180:39:23

around 800 personnel to Estonia and

around 150 to Poland. These

0:39:230:39:27

deployments are part of the broader

commitment to Nato and alliances on

0:39:270:39:34

the eastern flank.

I thank him for

that response. Does he agree with me

0:39:340:39:39

that both our security and our

economy rely on the confidence

0:39:390:39:44

placed in us by our Nato allies,

that we will, in the event of an

0:39:440:39:50

article five situation, be both

ready and willing to support our

0:39:500:39:53

eastern flank Nato allies?

My

honourable friend makes a very

0:39:530:39:59

important point. It's absolutely

right that our power is an important

0:39:590:40:04

part of maintaining defence and

security, as the Vice Chief of the

0:40:040:40:09

Defence Staff said last week, and

made the strong case for spending

0:40:090:40:12

more on defence. Armed Forces and

civilians in defence must do more to

0:40:120:40:18

work with other departments in both

international development and

0:40:180:40:21

diplomacy.

Question 14.

I continue

to monitor the recruiting

0:40:210:40:31

partnership project very closely.

Recruiting people into Armed Forces

0:40:310:40:40

today is more important than ever.

The Defence Secretary recently said

0:40:400:40:44

we are working closely with capita

to make a contract work better.

0:40:440:40:47

Could he give specific examples of

this work, how he will be assessing

0:40:470:40:52

whether performance has improved,

and in what time frame.

Defence has

0:40:520:40:58

been working closely with Capita on

a recruitment plan which has now

0:40:580:41:03

been implement it. Initial signs are

promising. We expect Capita to

0:41:030:41:07

deliver on improvements and will be

monitoring progress closely in

0:41:070:41:13

coming months, including ensuring

that the new defence recruiting

0:41:130:41:16

system reaches full operating

capability as quickly as possible.

0:41:160:41:23

Although many believe the regular

army should be closer to 100,000 in

0:41:230:41:27

strength it appears we are

struggling to even reach the reduced

0:41:270:41:29

figure of 82,000, what more can the

government do to make sure that we

0:41:290:41:33

recruit and maintain those levels

and increase them close to 82,000?

0:41:330:41:40

There is a lot that is going on at

the moment, we're working closely

0:41:400:41:44

with capitalize it would be a to

said that to having to with the

0:41:440:41:49

implementation of the defence system

-- R but it would be wrong to say

0:41:490:41:57

that we're not having problems. We

are recruiting from the female and

0:41:570:42:07

bame population and there has been

an increase but we have to make sure

0:42:070:42:10

we do everything we can to make sure

that joining the Armed Forces is an

0:42:100:42:16

attractive population and this is

something we intend to continue with

0:42:160:42:24

-- attractive proposition.

May I

greet this with question 16. The MoD

0:42:240:42:37

works to make sure that our service

people have the best mental health

0:42:370:42:43

and well-being strategy but I do

stress that the number of cases

0:42:430:42:46

dealt with in the Armed Forces to

deal with mental health are less

0:42:460:42:49

than the general civilian

population.

Would my right

0:42:490:42:55

honourable friend agree that

organisations which run a weekly

0:42:550:43:00

support group in my constituency of

Southport play an essential role in

0:43:000:43:05

helping veterans including any

mental health support they may need.

0:43:050:43:09

There are over 400 charities that

support not just the military but

0:43:090:43:18

also their families and the

community and yours is just one of

0:43:180:43:22

them and they do immense work in

providing that support which they

0:43:220:43:25

deserve and also need.

Mental health

problems place great strain on

0:43:250:43:32

relationships whilst family

breakdown can worsen mental health

0:43:320:43:35

issues, will the minister make sure

that mental health support extends

0:43:350:43:41

to personnel families and that there

is also particular focus on

0:43:410:43:46

providing support to keep military

families together?

You are

0:43:460:43:54

absolutely right, it often isn't the

person themselves who recognises

0:43:540:43:58

there is a mental health concern but

often the partner or husband or wife

0:43:580:44:03

or a family member or may be a

comrade in the unit, and this is

0:44:030:44:09

important that we provide the

necessary support which we are doing

0:44:090:44:12

but unfortunately there is a stigma

of just putting your hand up and

0:44:120:44:20

saying there is an issue but we are

moving forward in society and in the

0:44:200:44:23

Armed Forces.

The house will want to

join the welcoming the visit of a

0:44:230:44:30

distinguished delegation of Canadian

Parliamentary is, and our very good

0:44:300:44:34

friends from Canada, thank you. Mr

Stephen Hepburn.

I'm dealing with

0:44:340:44:43

the sad case of a young man in my

constituency who was injured with

0:44:430:44:49

the army and he did not get the

treatment he needed because he had

0:44:490:44:52

stepped to the net because of his

junior rank. Can I ask the minister

0:44:520:44:57

to review the system is to make sure

this doesn't happen in future?

You

0:44:570:45:03

are very pertinent in what you say

and we should have a robust system

0:45:030:45:06

which is able to make sure that no

person is left behind and I would be

0:45:060:45:11

more than happy to speak to the

honourable gentleman afterwards to

0:45:110:45:15

recognise what more can be done to

help this individual but in mind of

0:45:150:45:19

the guests, can I say thank you to

the Canadians, we held a conference

0:45:190:45:26

on mental health and veterans issues

last year where we were able to

0:45:260:45:29

compare notes to better improve all

of our contributions and our support

0:45:290:45:34

to our Armed Forces personnel and

veterans.

Emma Harding.

Sadly some

0:45:340:45:42

veterans returned from service with

mental health conditions and are

0:45:420:45:45

faced with a shameful lack of

resources to help them transition

0:45:450:45:49

back to civilian life and find

employment and I'm very proud that a

0:45:490:45:52

local charity in Hull provides them

with much-needed support and a

0:45:520:45:59

voice, will the minister join in

celebrating the work they do but

0:45:590:46:05

will he also commit to providing our

veterans with all the support they

0:46:050:46:09

need for transition that they

desperately need?

You are absolutely

0:46:090:46:13

right. We are doing mock with our

transition intervention service --

0:46:130:46:20

we are doing more work. To make sure

the needs of the individuals are met

0:46:200:46:24

as they make the transition from

being in the Armed Forces to being a

0:46:240:46:27

veteran and can I also pay tribute

to this charity, there are many

0:46:270:46:31

charities that do huge work across

the country, some small and some

0:46:310:46:34

large, but all making a important

effort.

Topical questions, doctor

0:46:340:46:41

Caroline Johnson.

I would like to

thank our Armed Forces are doing an

0:46:410:46:49

incredible job in supporting those

affected by the recent treachery is

0:46:490:46:52

whether across the UK -- treacherous

weather. They hand and 28 service

0:46:520:47:00

personnel and 124 vehicles and a

Chinook helicopter operating in

0:47:000:47:04

Cumbria have transported staff,

delivering critical care and

0:47:040:47:09

services to and from hospitals and

delivered medicines to vulnerable

0:47:090:47:14

people in the community and assisted

police in evacuating members of a

0:47:140:47:16

public stranded in vehicles. My

department of the Armed Forces stand

0:47:160:47:23

ready to assist for any further

calls for support.

Thank you for

0:47:230:47:29

that statement and I would like to

put on record my thanks to the Armed

0:47:290:47:32

Forces who came out in Lincolnshire

to support us over the last few

0:47:320:47:37

days, and the physical fitness of

our service men and women is

0:47:370:47:40

extremely important, yet sports

facilities at RAF crown well are

0:47:400:47:47

currently in a poor state of repair,

and I've received correspondence

0:47:470:47:50

from constituents regarding the

Astroturf, can you confirm whether

0:47:500:47:55

these will be repaired and will he

asked the minister responsible to

0:47:550:47:59

come and see for himself the fitness

and facilities which need repair.

0:47:590:48:06

May I generally remind you, topical

questions need to be much shorter.

I

0:48:060:48:15

can absolutely promise that my

friend is going to visit and he will

0:48:150:48:20

also take part in the assault course

as part of his visit but let's make

0:48:200:48:24

it clear, this is the member for

Bournemouth East and at the member

0:48:240:48:31

for South Staffordshire who will be

doing the assault course. -- and

0:48:310:48:34

not.

I'm sure that is very

reassuring for the nation!

After it

0:48:340:48:46

was admitted that the drone policy

is misleading, is it the policy of

0:48:460:48:53

the UK Government to kill people

outside war zones?

Our department

0:48:530:49:01

and our Armed Forces always operate

within the letter of the United

0:49:010:49:04

Kingdom and international law but

does our Armed Forces stepped up to

0:49:040:49:11

keep our country safe from

terrorists safe question yes, they

0:49:110:49:16

do, and I'm proud of the amazing

work they do in keeping this country

0:49:160:49:20

safe and I hope the honourable

gentleman is also.

Would my

0:49:200:49:27

honourable friend congratulate the

British Army for the work they have

0:49:270:49:33

done in Malawi working with the

Malawi government because the ivory

0:49:330:49:39

trade, we have seen a reduction from

4000 elephants ten years ago to now

0:49:390:49:44

2000, something needs to to be done

about it and they are doing it.

Our

0:49:440:49:52

Armed Forces are playing a variable

denial in training ranges to stop

0:49:520:49:55

this while trade in ivory poaching

-- very important role. We have been

0:49:550:50:02

able to extend this scheme and we

will continue to do this going

0:50:020:50:05

forward, working with local

governments right across Africa,

0:50:050:50:09

making sure these majestic animals

like elephants are projected.

0:50:090:50:16

Uniformed cadets like those of my

constituency do an amazing job of

0:50:160:50:22

producing well rounded and empowered

young people, and can I invite the

0:50:220:50:26

Secretary of State to look at the

funding that is provided to our

0:50:260:50:30

uniformed cadets across government,

which clearly offer a much better

0:50:300:50:33

value for money than some other

government funded youth programmes.

0:50:330:50:39

I hope he will also pay to be to the

126,000 cadets that we have in the

0:50:390:50:44

country, this is a wonderful

introduction into our Armed Forces,

0:50:440:50:48

also giving confidence to

youngsters, Bible look at individual

0:50:480:50:50

cases, charities are involved in

different ways in supporting our

0:50:500:50:56

cadets and I'm happy to meet with

him afterwards -- I will look at

0:50:560:51:00

individual cases.

We have a new

scheme encouraging veterans to

0:51:000:51:08

retrain as teachers, and this is

another example of how we are trying

0:51:080:51:13

to plug the skill gap.

We have the

most amazing resource in the Armed

0:51:130:51:19

Forces which are our people and we

want to give them the best

0:51:190:51:22

opportunities as they leave the

Armed Forces and the bursary scheme

0:51:220:51:26

offering up to £40,000 for them to

train as teachers is a great

0:51:260:51:29

opportunity and our Armed Forces are

often have amazing technical

0:51:290:51:34

expertise they are able to bring

straight to schools and benefit

0:51:340:51:37

generations in the future.

Mr

speaker, under a better defence, the

0:51:370:51:44

Secretary of State plans to close

the state-of-the-art medical

0:51:440:51:48

facilities in York and the upgraded

First Division headquarters, can he

0:51:480:51:52

say how much this is costing the

taxpayer?

You will be aware that the

0:51:520:52:00

UK and the MOD owns 2% of the land

in the UK and there is a

0:52:000:52:05

rasterisation programme to make sure

that we have affordable housing for

0:52:050:52:10

the future and so bases are being

closed and others are being opened

0:52:100:52:12

and also being reinvested, I'm happy

to look at the individual case and

0:52:120:52:19

discuss what can be done.

What

personnel have been reassigned to

0:52:190:52:23

recruitment?

There is a contingency

plan which we are looking at very

0:52:230:52:31

closely, probably moving about 150

personnel to act as role models on

0:52:310:52:36

the front line for recruiting.

There

is a great deal of confusion and

0:52:360:52:42

concern around the future basing

arrangements for the Army reserve,

0:52:420:52:44

could the minister tell us when we

might expect more information to be

0:52:440:52:49

published on this important matter?

Is one of the complexities about the

0:52:490:52:55

reserve estate is that much of it is

not owned by the Ministry of

0:52:550:52:59

Defence, it is owned by the reserve

forces themselves, and this is

0:52:590:53:04

adding complexity but we hope they

will update the house in due course.

0:53:040:53:10

Do you agree that the further set of

defence commitments reached by the

0:53:100:53:13

Prime Minister and Emmanuel Macron

in January represent a deepening of

0:53:130:53:18

this important relationship but also

a strengthening of Nato?

The

0:53:180:53:23

cooperation that our country has

with France is second to none and in

0:53:230:53:30

terms of the Anglo-French summit it

signposts and important development

0:53:300:53:33

in that relationship not just in

terms of operations going forward

0:53:330:53:37

but also about how best we can

collaborate in terms of our defence

0:53:370:53:42

industries as well.

Nick Smith.

How

well is the latest Army recruitment

0:53:420:53:49

campaign going?

We mentioned

earlier, I think we have seen some

0:53:490:53:55

improvement in recent weeks, the

numbers are increasing and that is a

0:53:550:53:58

positive sign.

Will my honourable

friend join me in congratulating the

0:53:580:54:08

company who have just got the

contract for the building of the new

0:54:080:54:13

type 26 figure?

I'm very glad to

congratulate the company, the type

0:54:130:54:19

26 is a great flagship for the Navy

and again we see UK industry

0:54:190:54:24

providing components for the type

26, an example of the way in which

0:54:240:54:28

the MOD is contributing to

innovation and growth in the UK

0:54:280:54:31

economy.

0:54:310:54:36

Carol Monaghan.

The National Audit

Office has revealed the cost of the

0:54:400:54:49

dreadnought programme has now risen

by nearly £1 million, Candy said

0:54:490:54:54

Terry of state confirmed that there

will be no further cuts to

0:54:540:54:58

conventional forces to meet the

rising costs of Trident question not

0:54:580:55:03

-- can the Secretary of State.

Yes,

our nuclear defence programme is

0:55:030:55:12

within budget and there will be no

impact as we saw to our civilian

0:55:120:55:16

capability.

The Daily Telegraph

reports grave concerns about the

0:55:160:55:26

Iraq fatalities investigations unit,

will the minister urgently reviewed

0:55:260:55:32

the case of Robert Campbell and

offer reassurance that the bond of

0:55:320:55:36

trust between soldiers and the

government remains intact?

You make

0:55:360:55:40

a very powerful point and this is

not about process, this is about

0:55:400:55:46

people and it is about the

government's obligation to look

0:55:460:55:50

after people and where they find a

balance between supporting our

0:55:500:55:53

service personnel and veterans but

equally the right of Iraqi families

0:55:530:55:57

to find out what happened to their

loved ones, and the Iraq totality

0:55:570:56:03

investigation can't lead to a

criminal investigation but I will

0:56:030:56:05

look very carefully at what you say

-- Iraq fatality.

Can the secretary

0:56:050:56:14

of state confirmed that Trillium was

the largest provider of services for

0:56:140:56:17

the MOD and whether there are any

gaps -- confirm that Carillion was

0:56:170:56:23

the largest provider.

In the joint

ventures that we were involved in,

0:56:230:56:30

there were agreements that were put

forward ahead of time to make sure

0:56:300:56:35

that if one of the partners were to

step back the other would continue

0:56:350:56:38

the work and that is exacted what

has happened right across the board

0:56:380:56:41

with the MoD. -- exactly.

0:56:410:56:46

Will my right honourable friend paid

tribute to UK peacekeepers in South

0:56:460:56:50

Sudan and elsewhere across the

world?

I would very much like to pay

0:56:500:56:55

tribute to the amazing work our

Armed Forces do in terms of keeping

0:56:550:56:59

peace in so many areas, South Sudan

being a perfect example. It also

0:56:590:57:04

goes to show what an amazing impact

all our Armed Forces have in

0:57:040:57:09

projecting Britain's global

influence in all parts of the globe.

0:57:090:57:16

What assessment has the Secretary of

State carried out for the

0:57:160:57:19

preparedness of our Armed Forces for

any expansion in the Syrian war,

0:57:190:57:24

given the conflict, the proxy

conflict between Russia and America

0:57:240:57:26

in Match Zone?

On this side of the

house we have always recognised that

0:57:260:57:33

it's very important to be fully

engaged into what is happening in

0:57:330:57:38

Syria and Iraq and we will continue

to look at that exceptionally

0:57:380:57:42

closely. I am incredibly honoured

that our Armed Forces are playing a

0:57:420:57:46

vital role in degrading the Daesh

terra cults, and that's what we will

0:57:460:57:51

continue to do going forward.

What

protections have been made for trade

0:57:510:58:02

in our important economy?

He's right

to highlight the issue. The Ministry

0:58:020:58:07

of Defence is responsible for one of

the largest customers of UK plc. We

0:58:070:58:12

support more than 20,000 positions

throughout the UK and it's clear the

0:58:120:58:17

Ministry of Defence contributes

significantly to the prosperity

0:58:170:58:20

agenda across the UK.

The incidence

of traumatic brain injury among the

0:58:200:58:25

Armed Forces is much higher than it

is even in the general population.

0:58:250:58:28

How will we make sure that every

single member of the Armed Forces

0:58:280:58:32

who has such an injury gets the full

rehabilitation they require?

The

0:58:320:58:38

honourable gentleman is absolutely

right, we want to measure we have

0:58:380:58:41

the necessary support for all those

affected. The question is to whether

0:58:410:58:45

they are higher than the general

population, but the new process we

0:58:450:58:48

are putting forward, and the

helpline launched last week by the

0:58:480:58:54

defence minister helps us to cover

that promise.

Reports suggest that

0:58:540:59:00

the near 100,000 who wanted to join

the Army last year, only 7500

0:59:000:59:05

actually made it, in part because of

time delay. What can be done to

0:59:050:59:09

streamline recruitment process?

My

honourable friend makes a valuable

0:59:090:59:14

point. We have identified that one

of the key problems we face is that

0:59:140:59:19

time-lag between application and a

listing in the Army. That's the main

0:59:190:59:22

focus of work at the moment to

shorten the period to get the

0:59:220:59:26

maximum number of people through the

system.

Why has the mechanised

0:59:260:59:34

infantry vehicle programme not that

an acquisition strategy, never mind

0:59:340:59:39

the contract, with only three years

to go, when it could optimised

0:59:390:59:44

vehicles back to Newcastle.

I can

assure the honourable lady

0:59:440:59:48

announcements will be made before

the end of the financial year.

The

0:59:480:59:55

parents of Corporal Simon Miller are

yet to receive justice for their son

0:59:550:59:59

who was one of the red Caps murdered

in Iraq in 2003. I have written to

0:59:591:00:04

ministers over many years on this

issue. Will the Minister agree to

1:00:041:00:08

meet with me and the Miller family

to see if there can be some justice

1:00:081:00:12

they receive for their son?

I would

be delighted.

Will the Minister

1:00:121:00:21

commits to following the Scottish

Government's lead and commit to

1:00:211:00:23

lifting the public sector pay cap

for Armed Forces workers?

What we

1:00:231:00:31

are looking at doing is how we

reduce the effect of the Scottish

1:00:311:00:38

Government's Nationalists' tax on

service personnel. 70% of service

1:00:381:00:45

personnel serving in Scotland are

having reduced pay as

1:00:451:00:48

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