There is a great difference between nationalism and patriotism, which is far more wholesome. It is no mistake that the leader of the Scottish National party herself has said that she very much regrets the fact that the word “national” is to be found in the SNP’s party name. But I am not here to talk about the SNP, disappointed though its Members will be to hear that. I urge Ministers across Government to take seriously the direct warning by General Sir Nick Carter that Russia poses a major threat that the UK would struggle to confront without an increase in defence spending.
I also want to mention recruitment. I believe that subcontracting recruitment to a civilian business was not a good decision. Such recruitment cannot be determined by someone working with a spreadsheet, and I seriously doubt that any private company has what it takes to function as an adequate recruitment agent for the British armed forces.
Housing for our armed forces is also an issue. Some of the anecdotal stories shared with me about living conditions for service families are, quite frankly, nothing less than shameful. However, that is too broad an issue to be covered in the time available tonight.
We also need to be sure that our troops have the right equipment at the right time. There is a black hole in the budget, as has been admitted. We have laid orders for equipment that we do not have the money to pay for. If we are not careful—I say this as a member of the Select Committee investigating Carillion—we will find ourselves in a situation of robbing Peter to pay Paul that will become a vicious circle, and we all know where that will lead to.