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Continuous At-Sea Deterrent

Part of Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts – in the House of Commons at 3:37 pm on 10th April 2019.

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Photo of Stewart McDonald Stewart McDonald Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence) 3:37 pm, 10th April 2019

Well, I am glad that normal service has been resumed.

As well as the issue of recruitment, there is of course the other issue of retention, which is becoming a big problem in the armed forces. I know that the Secretary of State recognises that. Indeed, we now have a situation whereby members of the armed forces are staying in the armed forces until such a time as they get a decent skill and qualification, with the sole intention of leaving to go into private industry. That is what the last armed forces survey tells us—I do not know why some Members on the Tory Benches are shaking their heads.

As this Government press on with Trident renewal, we should cast our eyes back to a couple of promises on defence that they made to the people of Scotland in the 2014 referendum campaign. Of course, the promise was made of a frigate factory on the Clyde. That promise was broken—not by this Secretary of State, but by the speaker who I am sure is going to follow me, the former Secretary of State, Sir Michael Fallon. Yet he seemed to think that there was a frigate factory on the Clyde. In fact, he seems to be maintaining that there is. I recall him standing at the Dispatch Box declaring that there was a frigate factory on the Clyde, but no such thing exists.

Then we come to the order of frigates. The former Prime Minister, David Cameron, promised that 13 frigates were to be built on the Clyde; that number was then cut down to eight. Any time we get a promise on defence or shipbuilding from this Tory Government—a bit like the way in which the fleet solid support ship contract has been lined up at the minute—we can be guaranteed that it will be another sell-out from Westminster.