RAF Centenary

Part of Leaving the EU – in the House of Commons at 7:32 pm on 26th November 2018.

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Photo of Stewart McDonald Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence) 7:32 pm, 26th November 2018

I have had to follow Dr Lewis in these defence debates many times, and it never, ever gets easier. He is New Forest East’s answer to David Starkey when it comes to these affairs. The House is furnished with much knowledge as the result of his contributions. I pay tribute to him, on behalf Scottish National party Members, for the sterling job he does as Chair of the Defence Committee. Despite our many disagreements, he is immensely fair to all the voices that make up that Committee.

I welcome the fact that this debate has been brought forward in Government time. Those who attend defence debates regularly will know that they are often requested, particularly by the Opposition. In fairness to quite a few Government Back Benchers, we do have more defence-related debates in Government time. Although this debate appears to be more of a tribute exercise as opposed to a defence debate, I will try to crowbar in some points that I think those on the Treasury Bench would do well to consider.

Before getting into that, however, I want to pay tribute to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force 602 Squadron in Glasgow, which is based in my constituency. It was a pleasure to spend a Saturday afternoon with them a few months ago. It had been scheduled in my diary for an hour. It lasted five hours. That is no complaint: it was useful for me and I hope it was useful for them. I would like to pay particular tribute to the commanding officer, squadron leader Archie McCallum, who does a fine job at the base in Carmunnock Road representing the base and the RAF to the local community and the city of Glasgow.

Right next door to the Royal Auxiliary Air Force base in my constituency is Cathcart Old parish church, whose minister has done a lot of great work with veterans and members of the armed forces. In particular, there is a real focus on supporting those who served in the RAF. Indeed, I was actually selected as the SNP candidate for my constituency in the RAF café in Cathcart Old parish church, which is very active to this day. As Members would expect, in paying tribute to everyone who has served in the RAF over the past 100 years I want to pay particular tribute to the Scottish effort and contribution to the history and the future of the RAF, much of which we will hear about from others.