Integrated Review - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:26 pm on 17 March 2021.

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Photo of Lord Robathan Lord Robathan Conservative 7:26, 17 March 2021

My Lords, there is much to welcome in this review, and I welcome it. Following my noble friend Lord Hamilton, I shall home in on one specific issue. The Prime Minister specifically said yesterday that

“by strengthening our armed forces, we will extend British influence”.—[Official Report, Commons, 16/3/21; col. 162.]

One small, if you like, example of that influence is the number of overseas students who come to Sandhurst and other staff colleges. If we diminish the size of the Army and are no longer seen as a viable and respected force around the world, they will no longer wish to come, and that will diminish our influence. Will my noble friend tell the Prime Minister that it is not from the “Ladybird book of defence”, as the Secretary of State for Defence suggested in the Commons on Monday, to say that we will not be taken seriously by our allies or our adversaries if we shrink the size of the Army?