Modernising Defence Programme - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 8:24 pm on 18th December 2018.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 8:24 pm, 18th December 2018

My Lords, I can deal very quickly with the second part of the noble and gallant Lord’s question. The Ministry of Defence stands ready to support other government departments if called upon, and if we find that the resources of those departments are insufficient in themselves. Having said that, we have received no formal bids as yet from other departments, despite the fact that we have asked them what they envisage requiring. There will be approximately 3,500 personnel standing ready in case of need to meet such situations.

Resilience has been a major theme of our deliberations. There are quite a number of strands to that. One is to look carefully at how we can enhance our chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence capabilities, investing further in Porton Down. We are also, as the report makes clear, enhancing our ability to share submarine threat data with our closest NATO allies. We are improving our secure communications, protecting our networks from cyberattacks and improving our ability to exchange information with NATO partners, as I have said.

We are also clear that we need to invest in improving power-generation capabilities for both Type 23 and Type 45 Royal Navy ships, enhancing their overall capability and productivity. There has been criticism, as I am sure the noble and gallant Lord is aware, of the extent to which some Royal Navy ships have been kept in port rather than being deployed. We are clear that we need to enable the Royal Navy to do better in that area.

The other obvious example of improving resilience is increasing the provision of spares and support to enhance global deployability and presence, particularly as regards the helicopter fleet.