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Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 20th June 2018.

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Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Conservative, Rayleigh and Wickford 5:58 pm, 20th June 2018

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend. In fairness, I understand that the Secretary of State is looking into what can be done on legacy investigations.

Secondly, NATO needs to improve its logistics and its ability to move assets, including heavy armour, to the Baltics in a timely manner. The UK has expressed particular interest in one of the 17 EU projects under PESCO—the permanent structured co-operation framework—specifically, the initiative to look at military mobility across Europe. Would it be worth establishing a NATO stock of flat-bed railway cars that European armies could share to move forces across Europe more quickly?

Thirdly, we need to enhance our collective forward presence by having more countries take part in the rotation of units to share the burden. Importantly, we also need more air defence units in that capacity. As has already been suggested, we may also wish to review our basing of units in Germany, because by remaining there they could have a considerable deterrent effect.

Fourthly, NATO should consider devolving to the Supreme Allied Commander EuropeSACEUR—the authority to sanction precautionary troop movements in a crisis, even when unanimous authority from the NATO ministerial council may not be forthcoming. That was much the case during the cold war, and we may have to re-learn that lesson in the protection of the Baltics.

In summary, as I argued earlier, in response to an act of aggression in Salisbury, the west showed admirable determination and collective will to stand up to Russia. We now need a similar combination of determination, backed up by sound military planning, to effectively deter aggression against NATO’s eastern flank. I hope that we will see evidence of all that at the summit in July.