NATO Summit

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Communities and Local Government – in the House of Commons at 3:33 pm on 8th September 2014.

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Photo of David Cameron David Cameron The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:33 pm, 8th September 2014

It is all very well to order them, but they actually have to be paid for. In a nutshell, that is the difference between a socialist and a Conservative. They dream about having money; we actually raise it and spend it.

The hon. Gentleman will be very pleased to hear that I announced at the NATO summit that that our second new carrier, HMS Prince of Wales, will also be brought into service. This will ensure that we always have one carrier available 100% of the time. This investment in our national security, our prosperity and our place in the world will transform our ability to project power globally, whether independently or together with our allies.

Turning to the wider reform of NATO, after the end of the cold war, NATO stood down its highest readiness force. At this summit, we decided to reverse that decision and scale up our readiness to respond to any threat. At the same time, we agreed to do more to build the capacity of other nations outside NATO, to help them with their defence capabilities. A new multinational spearhead force will be formed, and it will be deployable anywhere in the world within two to five days. That is vital in underlining our article 5 obligations to collective defence, and the UK will support that by providing a battle group and a brigade headquarters. We will also contribute 3,500 personnel to exercises in eastern Europe between now and the end of 2015, as part of NATO’s efforts to ensure a persistent presence on our eastern flank.

On capacity building, NATO has a vital role in helping other countries with their capacity to defend themselves against all threats, including terrorist threats. When we consider how many of the threats that NATO countries, including the UK, now face from the middle east, north Africa and elsewhere, we see that this capacity building is becoming ever more important. It was a key priority for the UK at the summit that we made progress. NATO will now undertake capacity building missions, beginning in Georgia and Jordan, with the offer of a training mission for Iraq as soon as the new Iraqi Government are in place.

Next, the alliance was clear about the scale of the threat from Islamist extremism, and we agreed that we must use all the instruments at our disposal—humanitarian, diplomatic and military—to squeeze this barbaric terrorist organisation out of existence. We should be clear about what needs to happen: we will continue to support the Kurds, including by providing them with arms and training their troops; we will work to support a new and representative Iraqi Government, which we hope to see in place later this week; and the fight against ISIL must be led by the Iraqis themselves, but we will continue to encourage countries in the region to support this effort and to engage allies across the world. We will proceed carefully and methodically, drawing together the partners we need, to implement a comprehensive plan. Earlier today, I spoke to Ban Ki-moon to seek support at the United Nations for a broad-based international effort to confront ISIL, and I will be working on building that international support when I attend the United Nations General Assembly later this month.

Turning to Afghanistan, we called on the two presidential candidates to work together to deliver a peaceful election outcome and a new Government as swiftly as possible. They made a statement during the conference that they would make those endeavours, and it is vital that that comes about. The summit paid tribute to the extraordinary sacrifice made by all our armed forces in driving al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan and training the Afghan security forces to take control of their security. We reaffirmed our long-term commitment to supporting a peaceful, prosperous and stable Afghanistan, including through our development conference in London in November.

Finally, as our troops return home from Afghanistan, it is right that we do all we can to support them and their families. In Britain, we have the military covenant—a pledge of commitment between the Government and our military—and we are the first British Government to write this covenant into the law of the land. We have made it ever more real by taking a series of measures, including: doubling the operational allowance; introducing free higher and further education scholarships; investing £200 million in helping our service personnel to buy homes; increasing the rate of council tax relief; signing up every single local council in our country in support of the military; and giving unprecedented support to military charities.

At the summit, we took our military covenant internationally, with every NATO member signing up to a new armed forces declaration, setting out their commitment to support their military and enabling all of us to learn from each other about how we can best do that. We will continue to do everything possible to look after those who serve our country and whose sacrifices keep us safe. This, I believe, was a successful NATO conference. It proved that this organisation is as important to our future security as it has been to the past, and I commend this statement to the House.