Nato

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Conservative, Thornbury and Yate 12:00 am, 22nd October 2018

What assessment he has made of the importance of NATO to UK national security.

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

Earlier this month I met my counterparts in NATO to discuss efforts to strengthen the alliance, including further burden sharing and working with allies so that they can step up their efforts to tackle today’s threats, including by deterring malicious cyber-attacks.

Photo of Luke Hall Luke Hall Conservative, Thornbury and Yate

Does the Secretary of State agree that the UK should continue to play a leading role in NATO, and that working with our allies to combat terrorism and the increasingly sophisticated threat of cyber-attacks should remain a priority?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

We should be incredibly proud of the leading role that we play; we were the first nation to commit our offensive cyber-capabilities to NATO, we have seen an uplift in troop numbers in NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, and we are second only to the United States in supporting NATO and the work it does.

Photo of Toby Perkins Toby Perkins Labour, Chesterfield

The Government’s counting within the 2% that we spend on defence things that would never have been counted under previous Governments undermines our voice when it comes to NATO. Will the Secretary of State take this opportunity to confirm that current spending is simply inadequate if Britain wants to play a global role in the defence of the country?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

Britain has met and will always meet its NATO commitments, and we undertake to spend the money that is required by NATO guidelines.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee

As I am sure you will vividly remember, Mr Speaker, on this very date 35 years ago the largest ever demonstration by the campaign for one-sided nuclear disarmament marched in London. Just under 100,000 people marched—although, typically, four times that number was claimed—and the then leader of the Labour party, a lifelong unilateralist, told the rally that NATO should not deploy cruise or Pershing II missiles. If that policy had been followed, we would not have had an intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty. What assessment have my right hon. Friend and his Department made of whether that INF treaty, which has been successful for so long, has now been violated by Russia?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

It has been our clear and consistent view that Russia has been in breach of that treaty. We urge Russia to comply with the treaty.

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

I do vividly remember the demonstration in question, not least because, as Dr Lewis is keenly aware, at almost exactly the same time I made an absolutely splendid speech at the University of Essex student union that was based overwhelmingly on the sagacious briefing provided by the right hon. Gentleman.

Photo of Luke Pollard Luke Pollard Labour/Co-operative, Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for listening to Plymouth’s campaigns to base the new Type 26 frigates in Devonport, in the constituency that I represent, and to save Albion and Bulwark from being cut. Can he give any further reassurance to the workers in Devonport that we will be a base for future NATO operations by confirming that we will be the home to the Royal Marines super-base as well?

Photo of Gavin Williamson Gavin Williamson The Secretary of State for Defence

I should like to pay tribute to all the Members of Parliament in Devon and Cornwall who have campaigned so hard on the basing of the Type 26s and on keeping Albion and Bulwark. We are not going to make any early comments on the future basing arrangements, but I take note of the hon. Gentleman’s comments.