My Lords, I am grateful for the opportunity to open this important debate in your Lordships’ House on the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy.
As noble Lords will be aware, the Prime Minister published the review on
The integrated review outlines how the nature and distribution of global power is changing. It identifies evolving trends in the world that will shape the next decade, including geopolitical and geo-economic shifts, such as China’s increasing power and assertiveness and the growing importance of the Indo-Pacific region, which are subjects we discuss quite regularly in your Lordships’ House; the increasing competition between states over interests, norms and values, with authoritarian states and malign actors seeking to undermine the democratic systems and openness that underpin our way of life; rapid technological change in areas such as artificial intelligence, cyber and data, which is totally reshaping the threats we face and the wide scope of opportunities that lie ahead; and, finally, the transnational and existential threats to our climate, biodiversity and health, illustrated so acutely by the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic. These threats affect everyone everywhere, and they risk reversing decades of shared progress.
Faced with this clear analysis of the trials we face today and the challenges of tomorrow, we cannot turn inward as a country and hope to prosper. We must be energetic and build alliances to counter and overcome these challenges, demonstrating the full capabilities of global Britain. To do this, we will focus on four key areas where the United Kingdom can make a difference.
First, we will grow the UK as a great science and technology power. We will ensure that our current strategic advantage translates into a mastery of the technologies that are central to geopolitical competition and our future prosperity, including, of course, areas such as artificial intelligence and renewables. To achieve this, we are backing talent and expertise across the country. We are supporting scientists, researchers, investors and innovators. We are working with regulators and standards bodies to help shape international norms. We are leveraging talent and ideas from academia and the private sector, helping manufacturers take their innovations through to market. In this respect, we are investing at least £800 million to set up an independent body for high-risk, high-reward research. The advanced research and invention agency will back breakthrough technologies and basic research through experimentation. We are growing our global network of innovation partnerships, putting science and technology at the heart of our alliances and partnerships worldwide, from security to free trade agreements.
Our second priority is to reinvigorate the international order in support of the interests of open and democratic societies. We will play a more active part in international institutions to reinforce and reshape the international order of the future, extending it in areas such as cyberspace and space, while protecting and strengthening democratic values. We will promote trade, because it creates jobs and prosperity at home and abroad and offers the developing world a more compelling model of growth. We are also pursuing a values-driven trade policy to make the world stronger, safer and more prosperous. In less than two years, we have already secured trade agreements with 66 countries, and we have signed a trade and co-operation agreement with our allies and neighbours in the European Union. We are also very much deeply committed to multilateralism. The United Kingdom is proud to have played its part, both as one of the UN’s founding members and as a permanent member of the Security Council. Indeed, noble Lords will recall that, earlier this year, we hosted Secretary-General Guterres and his team—in what turned out to be, unfortunately, a virtual visit—to mark the end of UN 75.
Thirdly, we will defend the British people by taking a more robust approach to security and deterrence, by defending British people abroad and by building up better governance abroad. We are increasing our investment in defence to 2.2% of GDP. Our Armed Forces will be more persistently engaged overseas and better prepared to meet emerging threats with full-spectrum capabilities, including in space and cyberspace. We will take a more integrated approach to government work on conflict and instability, addressing the drivers of conflict such as bad governance and strengthening the resilience of fragile countries to external interference.
Finally, and equally importantly, global Britain will be a force for good in the world, building resilience both at home and overseas as a defence against the threats we all face. Tackling climate change and biodiversity loss is now our top international priority, supported, as noble Lords will recognise, by the £11.6 billion we have committed to international climate finance, and our 10-point green plan to reach net zero by 2050. We will use COP 26 in Glasgow later this year to encourage direct action to reach a zero-carbon global economy, to protect and restore biodiversity and to help vulnerable countries adapt and boost their resilience to climate change.
I mentioned the Covid-19 pandemic; we are working collaboratively with key partners and agencies and the United Nations to beat Covid-19 by using our G7 presidency to accelerate equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics across the world. We are also seeking reform of the World Health Organization, but this is not just about calling for reform; it will be supported by our 30% increase in core funding over the next four years, which will take our contribution to the World Health Organization to £340 million. We are establishing a global hub to provide countries with a single source of intelligence on the human, animal and environmental risks they face.
As a force for good, we will also continue to stand up for open societies and democratic values: the values and issues that matter to us most, such as freedom of speech, freedom of thought and freedom to choose. We will continue to defend press and media freedom, and we will strengthen and promote freedom of religion or belief, including through an international ministerial conference scheduled to be held in the UK in 2022. We were the first European country to announce sanctions against the regime in Belarus, and we have introduced measures to ensure that British organisations are not complicit in, or profiting from, human rights violations in Xinjiang. More widely, we will continue to promote effective governance, democratic institutions and the rule of law, including by bolstering our support for election observations and by introducing a new global sanctions regime on corruption.
We will use our leadership on international development to help tackle global poverty and achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030. We will continue to work for gender equality and our target of getting 40 million more girls into school in low and middle-income countries by 2025. By creating the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, we have combined our aid with our diplomatic clout and are focusing our spending on where the UK can make a difference, while delivering on wider objectives that serve our national interest.
No single country could achieve these objectives alone; as I have often said from the Dispatch Box, collective action with our allies and partners is vitally important. We will lead by example where we have unique or significant strengths and identify other goals where we are better placed to support and work constructively and collaboratively with our allies. These alliances will help sustain an international order in which open societies and economies can flourish.
The wisdom of this joined-up approach was evident during my recent visit to India. From Chandigarh to Chennai, I saw how our ambitious vision of global Britain, coupled with a clear-eyed analysis of the UK’s place in the world, is setting the tone for a productive and progressive alliance with a key strategic partner. Increasing our engagement in the Indo-Pacific region is a major priority that we have identified in the review, including through our ambition to become a dialogue partner to the ASEAN group of nations.
We will also develop stronger partnerships around the world. Building from the bedrock of our traditional alliances with the United States and Europe, and as the leading European ally within NATO, this includes our current work with allies and through NATO to deter Russia, particularly with regard to Ukraine to de-escalate the situation.
We also believe in being a partner of choice in Africa, from deepening trade and business links that support quality jobs, at home and across Africa, to working together to champion girls’ education as a way to unlock opportunity. When you educate a girl, you change the future for her family, her community, her town or city and for her country.
We will foster thriving relationships in the Middle East based on trade, green innovation and science.
The UK has had the privilege of serving as Commonwealth chair-in-office since 2018—as Minister for the Commonwealth, this has been a particular priority for me. The Commonwealth is a constellation of 53 sovereign and equal member states and remains an important institution in supporting an open and resilient international order. It brings together states with a national interest in promoting democracy and ideals and values that we share, sustaining individual freedoms, driving sustainable development and enabling cross-border trade.
We will do more to adapt to China’s growing impact, managing disagreements, defending our values, and co-operating where our interests align—and, yes, that includes pursuing a positive economic relationship, while also tackling global challenges such as climate change.
We are clear-eyed about the challenges we face, but we are also optimistic about our future. We are an active European country, with a global perspective, bringing nations together to solve the problems that matter most to our people, and to improve their lives and those of citizens around the world.
In conclusion, the integrated review sends a message about what the United Kingdom stands for as an independent actor on the global stage. It is our commitment to work with our allies and partners as a force for good.
To reflect on the past year alone, we have introduced a UK Magnitsky sanctions law to target individuals guilty of the most serious human rights violations abroad. I acknowledge the contribution of many in your Lordships’ House that has strengthened our work in this area and built the momentum behind the introduction of that law. We took the bold step to issue an invitation to this country to the people of Hong Kong oppressed by Beijing. Again, I know that that is an important priority for many in your Lordships’ House. We set an example to the world with our contribution to COVAX, the global vaccine programme for the developing world. We have continued to be one of the most generous contributors of foreign aid, and we were the first industrialised nation to set a legally binding national target to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
This is global Britain. The integrated review builds on this foundation. It unleashes our independent foreign policy outside the European Union and sets out our vision for the next decade, based on our values and grounded in the UK national interest. This is our mission: global Britain as a force for good in the world. I beg to move.
My Lords, as this is a time-limited debate with a large number of speakers, I remind noble Lords in advance of the four- minute speaking limit for Back-Bench speeches.
My Lords, when the integrated review was announced by the Prime Minister, we welcomed it. We wanted it to succeed, to keep our citizens safe and to secure Britain as a moral force for good in the world. But, after its publication, the chorus of concern has only grown. To put it simply, it is a plan for fewer troops, fewer ships and fewer planes. There is no assessment of current or future capability, no strategic principles and nothing about how the Ministry of Defence should be structured to best provide national security.
For this speech, I will focus on defence, and my noble friend Lord Collins will focus on the foreign and development policy components—but, of course, they are interrelated. On defence, I start with the Prime Minister’s comments. He said that the integrated review would end what he described as an “era of retreat”. The review and subsequent defence Command Paper made it clear that the threats facing the UK are “increasing and diversifying”. Despite these promises and expanding threats, the review is set to repeat the mistakes of the past.
The Prime Minister even broke an election promise by announcing that the size of the Army specifically will be cut by 10,000 by 2025. We urge the Government to think again. Former military chiefs, including the noble Lord, Lord Dannatt, and the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Richards, have said that further cuts to the Army would mean that the UK was
“no longer taken seriously as a military power” and would
“damage our relationship with the US and our position in NATO”.
A slew of Navy and RAF retirements have been announced. These include “at least” two Type 23 frigates, well before new frigates will be brought into service, Typhoon tranche 1 aircraft and Hawk T1 training aircraft. We urge the Government to think again.
I will also touch on threats. The review outlines a number of threats to the UK, but fails to present a coherent strategy for deterring them. Rightly, the Command Paper names Russia as the
“greatest nuclear, conventional military and sub-threshold threat to European security.”
This is evidenced by the build-up of 100,000 Russian troops on the border of eastern Ukraine but, despite their own warning, the Government still have not fully implemented any of the Russia report’s 23 recommendations, 18 months after the report was completed. I ask the Minister a simple question: why?
With the integrated review, Ministers are making the same mistake—responding to increasing threats with more cuts. Of course, we must develop new technologies in domains such as cyberspace and artificial intelligence, but new technologies have always been harnessed to strengthen our Armed Forces; they will never entirely replace the need for boots on the ground.
My Lords, we waited a long time for this review. What arrived has some extraordinary omissions, contradictions and, frankly, double-speak. The words on the page do not square with the actions that the Government are taking.
We are, of course, a smaller player outside the EU, more dependent on the US and their interests and buffeted by China. The review says that we are in a multipolar world—indeed so. One of those poles is the EU, and yet there is an EU-shaped hole here. The review rightly emphasises that we achieve more by working with others. Why then is there nothing here on how we work with the EU properly or rebuild our relationship?
The review emphasises an “Indo-Pacific tilt”. Of course, this region will be very important for trade, and challenging with the rise of China, but being in the EU never stopped trade with China, or India or Indonesia, and would have given us a stronger base for tackling China’s threats.
The review was pre-empted by the merger of the FCO and DfID, without having worked out any strategic reason for this. Then, during the pandemic, which demonstrates how interlinked we are globally, there was the decision to cut ODA. Both actions undermine our outstanding previous reputation in international development and poverty reduction. Much of the review was clearly written before that cut was decided, and this undermines the rhetoric throughout.
There is something of an industrial strategy here, at the same time that we learn that we are not really going to have one. It says that we need to be a science and technology superpower. That was at the heart of the 2012 industrial strategy and helped to lay the foundations for our strength in the biotech sector, but those cutting ODA clearly did not know how it supported the science and tech sector, and that cuts would savagely undermine the review’s claims.
See, too, soft power. The review rightly recognises both the British Council and the BBC. It says:
“The BBC is the most trusted broadcaster worldwide”.
Yet the British Council is closing offices because of cuts and the BBC is under systematic attack from the Government.
The review does not even try to define global Britain, which is what the Government say we are post Brexit. I quote:
“What Global Britain means in practice is best defined by actions rather than words.”
Indeed: we have cut aid, threatened to break international law and lost allies. Our effort on
“global leadership on reducing space threats” amounts to a UN General Assembly resolution. We appointed
“the UK’s first Special Envoy for Famine Prevention”,
but cut assistance to Yemen, as Mark Lowcock said, to
“balance the books on the backs of the starving people of Yemen”.
The review says that we will uphold human rights, but we have agreed an unconstrained FTA with Cambodia, despite human rights abuses, in contrast to the EU’s approach.
The review says that
“the UK will remain deeply invested in the security and prosperity of Europe”,
but we have slashed support to the Balkans. There is a chapter entitled “Arms control, disarmament, and non-proliferation: our commitment to international treaties”—and then it says that we will increase our nuclear warheads. George Orwell would have been impressed.
I welcome this review for being useful, as we are better able to hold the Government to account on what they say that they want to do. What is extraordinary is the contrast between that rhetoric and the reality of the Government’s actions.
I start by saying that the integrated review is a good piece of work. It sets the strategic scene well and I agree with many of the conclusions that it draws. There are inevitably areas of detail that merit more examination and further debate but, alas, there is no opportunity for that today. Given the short time available, I shall make just two points.
First, despite the much-discussed tilt to the Indo-Pacific, the review correctly identifies Russia as the most immediate threat to our security. The maintenance of our commitment to NATO, the associated transatlantic relationship and the continued development of our military capabilities, including in new fields such as cyber, are therefore crucial. But we will continue to face challenges from Russia below the threshold of conventional war. Success with these requires robust international responses, particularly among our European neighbours, but such responses will become increasingly difficult to agree, as issues of security become more entangled with those of trade and supply, and short-term national concerns trump regional solidarity. Nord Stream 2 and its possible effect on Europe’s ability to respond effectively to Russian adventurism is a case in point.
How do we rise to this challenge? The integrated review says that the UK will work with its European partners “where our interests coincide”. Surely there can be no greater example of mutual self-interest than the peace and stability of our own continent. But our ability to influence our European partners has undoubtedly been weakened by Brexit. We are no longer directly involved in the engine rooms where EU foreign and security policy proposals are developed, and our high-level relationships with our neighbours are subject to the tensions and frictions that will arise from time to time, as a consequence of our divergence from previously common positions. These are now inescapable facts of life that will require determined and sustained effort if we are to counteract them, but the review has little or nothing to say about how this is to be done.
My second point concerns China. The review says:
“We will continue to pursue a positive trade and investment relationship … while ensuring our national security and values are protected.”
This is likely to prove an almost impossible balancing act and we need to be clearer about the choices we will have to make and where our true interests lie. China patently does not wish to be constrained by the post-1945 global order. Whether it wants to dictate the course of other nations may be open to question; that it wants to be free of constraints imposed by others is beyond doubt. We are now engaged in a global contest to determine the rules by which international behaviour will be governed for most of the remainder of this century. The outcome of that struggle is crucial to our national interest.
The Government have rightly said that the UK should help to shape those rules, but this will mean opposing China. It will require us to be part of a grouping that can muster sufficient economic strength, military power and technological advantage to influence decisions in a way that runs counter to China’s purposes. As a proud and modern superpower, China will not take such opposition lying down. There will be consequences. We should, of course, seek to trade with China and to engage with it on important issues such as climate change, but we should also expect our stances on global governance and human rights to disrupt those efforts, perhaps severely. Our strategy should make clear that we place long-term benefit over short-term advantage and that we are prepared to face up to the difficulties that this will cause.
My Lords, the International Relations and Defence Committee, which I chair, has discussed the proposals in the integrated review. My comments today reflect the views expressed on just three issues.
We welcome the drive to achieve better co-ordination and consistency between Britain’s international departments. Foreign policy should balance the interests and values of the UK. That objective is evident in the Government’s overall approach—[Inaudible]— prosperity, security and democracy. We feel, however, that the review itself is too broad-brush, failing sufficiently to prioritise and give a clear indication of where and when the UK will expend both time and resources. That is even more vital at a time when the Government have decided to break the UK’s statutory commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA. The review states:
“We will continue to support stability in Afghanistan, as part of a wider coalition” and:
“Under persistent engagement, our armed forces will continue to … provide support to the Government of Afghanistan”.
In the light of the announcement that UK troops will leave Afghanistan in September, plus the reduction in ODA spend, what are the consequences for the Government’s commitments in the review? What priority will the Government give to support for the Afghan Government?
We are also concerned by a lack of consistency in sections of the report. The tilt to the Indo-Pacific was heavily briefed before publication, but the review identifies Russia, not China, as
“the most acute direct threat to the UK”.
There are some standard lines on support for NATO and European partners, but the review offers little on the importance of working alongside like-minded countries with which we share a neighbourhood. As economic pressures build, of course we understand why the Government are rushing towards an Indo-Pacific focus and new partners further afield. However, it is essential to nurture our alliances with nearer friends too.
There is also a lack of consistency in the approach to relations with countries in Africa. The regions of Africa prioritised in the review are not consistent with the Government’s evidence given to our committee about their strategic approach focusing on security in the Sahel. There is a glancing reference to the Sahel in half a sentence and two brief mentions of Mali, but that is it. We are not given reasons for the change in focus. It is east Africa which is prioritised; this is new. The case for closer engagement in east Africa would not be difficult to make, but the Government simply do not do so.
A final matter of concern is the decision to increase the UK’s nuclear stockpile. There could hardly be a worse time to do so, just months before the RevCon of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. If there is a plausible rationale for that significant policy change, perhaps based on maintaining the credibility of our nuclear deterrent, the Government should make that case. They have not. Their decision undermines Britain’s leverage to encourage other nuclear weapon states to exercise restraint in their modernisation programmes.
I hope that the more detailed plans which should surely flow from the review will focus better on prioritisation and resourcing to deliver the Government’s ambitions for a global Britain. We all need that to happen.
My Lords, I will confine myself to making three points on nuclear deterrence, a policy I have long supported both inside and outside government. I did not hear the Minister mention it today, but I have concerns about the review in this area, some of which reflect what the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, has just said. First, page 76 of the integrated review approximates to our present policy by saying:
“The UK will not use, or threaten to use, nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon state party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons 1968.”
However, it then goes on to say, no more than two sentences later:
“However, we reserve the right to review this assurance if the future threat of weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological capabilities, or emerging technologies that could have a comparable impact, makes it necessary.”
This raises a question. Does it actually mean that we hold open the use of nuclear weapons in response to any form of aggression, including, perhaps, through technology or cyber? Will the Minister explain the meaning of this section? In asking that, I understand that ambiguity has a part to play in nuclear deterrence but, if ambiguity is stretched so far that it becomes ubiquitous, it is in danger of becoming confusing and, frankly, incredible. That, in turn, then undermines rather than reinforces nuclear deterrence.
Secondly, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, just said, and as my noble friend Lord Browne recently and accurately pointed out, by raising the cap on the numbers of our nuclear arsenal we have effectively abdicated our leadership role in nuclear disarmament, not least by announcing a policy change that runs completely counter to President Biden’s commitment to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in national security policies. In the integrated review, the Government have provided for fewer soldiers, fewer planes, fewer ships, but more nuclear warheads. Perhaps the Minister could tell the House, first, what the rationale is for that and, secondly, what consultation took place with the Biden Administration on this change?
We live in an age in which the threats and dangers are more complex and interrelated than ever before. Only this week US Strategic Command warned:
“The spectrum of conflict today is neither linear nor predictable. We must account for the possibility of conflict leading to conditions which could very rapidly drive an adversary to consider nuclear use as their least bad option.”
In this context, will the Minister explain how the decision to increase our nuclear stockpile, and to potentially extend the threat of a nuclear response to an apparently unlimited range of conflict situations, is supposed to strengthen nuclear deterrence?
Finally, I draw the Minister’s attention to a paper issued this week by the European Leadership Network, which pointed out:
“The ability for the leaders of nuclear-weapons states … to communicate personally, unambiguously, and with certainty in all conditions has eroded as their number … has increased” and technology has evolved. Astonishingly, in an age when any nuclear crisis or conflict could not be contained with certainty to two states, there are currently no multilateral communication lines that can be trusted. All major nuclear risk reduction efforts under way ahead of the NPT review conference have recommended that the permanent five work on improving crisis communication technology. What have the Government done to assist this process?
Before I call the next speaker, the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, it might be helpful to read out the scratches so that the speakers who follow them will be aware and can make plans. The noble Baroness, Lady Sheehan, has scratched, as has the noble Baroness, Lady Sugg, the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, the noble and learned Lord, Lord Woolf, and the noble Lords, Lord Sarfraz, Lord Walney, Lord Hannan, Lord Berkeley and Lord Desai.
My Lords, the telling phrase is in part V of the review. On page 97, paragraph 2, it says:
“‘Integration’ is not a new theme in the UK’s approach to national security, although the language used to describe it has varied over time.”
Language is important. On development co-operation, the language of a United Kingdom Prime Minister, at the start of this, described UK development assistance as
“a great cashpoint in the sky”.
That was the message from this Government to the world. On page 5, the language on aid is
“we will return to our commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on development when the fiscal situation allows.”
I have asked the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, three times, including today, what these fiscal criteria are, and there has been no answer. The Government either know and are refusing to tell Parliament—which is an undemocratic outrage—or this is just more disingenuous language that warrants no trust.
Only one part of the integrated review has been underpinned by law, and the Government are acting unlawfully in contradiction to it, by halving UK bilateral aid assistance. How integrated is it, when the Government say it will be a soft power—as my noble friend Lady Northover indicated—but, in the preceding three years, the Government said the soft power strategy was imminent, only for it ditched as Brexit made it inconvenient?
The Africa strategy that the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, referred to was imminent but was never published. Theresa May promised that the UK would be the largest investor in Africa. China took note because of its strategic debt policy. China noticed even more when Boris Johnson ditched that approach. What is our approach to investment in Africa? What guides us on this? Annex B, on evidence and engagement, says in paragraph 2 that
“we undertook a systematic programme of engagement, analysis and challenge.”
On the breaking of the law and cutting UK bilateral aid by the greatest amount ever, the statement is not true—especially on Yemen. On
“We haven’t done an impact assessment.”
Halving support for the poorest people in the world, during the worst humanitarian crisis on earth, is a moral stain on this Government. Nothing in this integrated review means anything if we can do this without an assessment of the impact on them, our global reputation, and our partners, by the resignation of leadership. If one of the richest countries in the world can halve support to the poorest people in the world, there is no moral compass to guide anything else in this review. We are not just cutting aid; we are cutting co-operation. We are not just cutting by half our position as a donor; we are a less reliable partner to all those we have worked with to this point.
My Lords, I declare my interest as a strategic adviser to Lockheed Martin UK. I know how hard it is to conduct a review such as this, having co-ordinated the equivalent document in 2010. I pay tribute to Professor John Bew and to all the officials who produced it. I agree with the Minister that it is the most comprehensive survey yet of the UK’s national security challenges. It also gives a convincing analysis of a world that is fracturing into blocs and heading towards systemic competition. I welcome the confirmation that European security, NATO and Britain’s partnership with the US will, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, said, be at the heart of our foreign policy.
The Indo-Pacific passage turned out to be more measured than the advance hype suggested. Some increase in diplomatic activity, economic engagement and military presence makes sense, but we have to be realistic: Britain will only ever be a secondary player in Asian security. The passage on China recognises that we must treat the country both as a strategic competitor and a necessary partner on trade and climate change. I agree that that is the difficult balancing act we need to perform.
I want to underline three areas that I see as main weaknesses in the review. First, it is an impressively wide-ranging document, but it is not a strategy. The US historian John Lewis Gaddis defines strategy as
“the alignment of potentially unlimited aspirations with necessarily limited capabilities.”
This review suggests British leadership in a whole series of areas but, as the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay, observed, it makes no effort to set priorities. In the 2010 and 2015 reviews, we published a prioritised list of the risks facing Britain, which at least offered some guide to resource allocation. This review is, in effect, a long laundry list of worthy goals, leaving the real choices to be made by Ministers later.
Secondly, it is not truly integrated. There is a large gap between the words of the review and the Government’s actions. This is clearest in the ambition for the UK to be a “soft power superpower”. That is a noble aim, but the problem is that the Government’s actions are undercutting it. Take development policy: DfID was a great soft power ambassador for Britain; it showed that we were practising the values we preached. Reducing the aid programme to 0.5% of a smaller GDP means making more than £4 billion of cuts from one financial year to the next. It is the speed as well as the scale of those cuts that is going to have such a disruptive impact. Since the UK already has some long-term commitments to multilateral organisations such as the World Bank, the burden will fall heaviest on the bilateral programmes in countries in desperate need, such as Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Syria. I felt that the Foreign Secretary’s Statement yesterday disguised the extent of those cuts, but they are inevitable. They will mean stopping projects for humanitarian support, clean water, education and nutrition. Once staff are sacked it will be very difficult to get them restarted.
At the same time, the British Army is to create new Ranger battalions to train and mentor the armed forces of less advanced partners. I fear we risk cutting development spending and increasing military presence in the same regions, if not the same countries. The Minister might wish to explain how that is an integrated approach.
Thirdly and finally, in two sentences, we are proposing to work with European partners but not the EU. How can we credibly aspire to be a superpower in soft power, science and technology, reshaping the world order, if we do not have a functional relationship with the EU? We will not have a real national strategy until we can overcome this taboo.
My Lords, your Lordships should be well pleased by one aspect of this review, because it reflects and draws on two seminal House of Lords reports, Persuasion and Power in the Modern World in 2014 and UK Foreign Policy in a Shifting World Order in 2018, which urged policymakers and the then Foreign & Commonwealth Office to reappraise the UK’s position in a totally changed world landscape.
I welcome especially the review’s recommended tilt to Asia, including not just China but Japan, India and all the ASEAN counties, in terms of trade and security—a shift which some of us have been urging for decades, long before Brexit, to what is now by far the most vibrant region on the planet. The balanced approach to the tricky China containment issue, which has already been referred to, is also welcome, instead of some of the shotgun-like Sinophobia that has been served up to us from both sides of the Atlantic, which China simply brushes off. Almost every democracy, and almost certainly every Commonwealth member state, is looking for the right balance in dealing with the Chinese. Incidentally, I hope that New Zealand is not going wobbly on this need for developing a robust common approach.
The review is also good on recognising how technology has changed, the nature of warfare and defence—how, in the age of drones, cyber and artificial intelligence, troop power will have to be more skilled but with fewer numbers on the ground—and how soft power and smart power now play a central role in UK foreign policy in a networked and multipolar world, just as we urged seven years ago. The whole of society is now involved in a permanent kind of warfare, requiring entirely new kinds of defence, which some critics frankly do not yet seem to have grasped. Incidentally, I have to ask why the biggest modern soft power network of all, the modern Commonwealth, which the Minister has served so supremely well, gets so very little acknowledgement and no serious appraisal in this review until page 61.
Where the authors go wrong is in not understanding the full nature of the changed relationship with the United States. There is still far too much of a tone of the old followership with America, rather than partnership in the network age. The review seems far too influenced by US think tanks, with their dated obsession with great power dominance and rivalries. Power, trade and even dollar dominance are shifting away from the West, but not much of that seems to come through in the review at all.
Lastly, it has to be asked who on earth decided to put the lifting of the nuclear warhead cap, which goes flatly against NPT doctrine, in with the publication of this review. That inevitably distorted its public reception and its main messages. It really was a very unwise thing to do and spoiled a good, if belated, contribution to our reappraisal of Britain’s position in a transformed world order.
My Lords, as this review sadly confirms, rather than emerging from Brexit as global Britain, the country now inhabits a kind of diplomatic limbo. The omission, at the UK’s insistence, of foreign policy and defence from the trade and co-operation agreement with the EU, together with the failure to agree a trade deal with the US reflecting the Biden Administration’s concerns about Brexit and its potential consequences for the island of Ireland, mean that the Government are left aspiring to a global role without having secured the alliances or the resources they need.
The Government say that they want to tilt their international relationships in the direction of Asia—a region that has recently provided about 20% of the UK’s trade, as opposed to almost half with the EU. The PM’s cancelled visit to India was planned for this purpose. However, outside the huge EU single market, the UK frankly ranks as a mid-sized power and lacks negotiating leverage. Britain is just 18th on the list of trading partners with India, a traditionally protectionist economy.
In view of the current massing of troops at the Ukrainian border, the review rightly identifies Russia under Vladimir Putin as an active threat. However, the Conservative Party continues to accept donations from London-based Russian oligarchs, and it has failed to implement any of the recommendations of the long-delayed Russia report of the British Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, finally published in July last year.
By contrast, despite major human rights violations in Hong Kong and Xinjiang, China is described in the review as merely a “systemic challenge”. The decision to go for a hard Brexit, which cuts off trade links with the EU, increases incentives to trade with China. The Government have been using heavy-handed tactics to block the genocide amendment to the Trade Bill and the Foreign Secretary has been hinting off the record at double standards in trying to secure certain trade deals. Compromising our common values on China would likely further damage the prospects of close co-operation with the United States. Indeed, at last week’s US-Japan summit there was pressure by the US on Japan to decouple supply chains from China.
The concept of Britain punching above her weight also seems nostalgic, especially with a £17 billion defence equipment budget hole and day-to-day defence spending being cut by 2.7% in real terms over the next four years. Instead of reducing our stockpile of Trident nuclear warheads to 180, the Government’s unexplained intention is to increase the cap to 260—a violation of the UK’s international non-proliferation treaty commitments. With the urgent need to invest and re-equip our health and care services after Covid, how on earth can we afford money-wasting spending on weapons of mass destruction when we have enormous capability anyway? The Government’s disgraceful decision to cut foreign aid from 0.7% of GDP to 0.5% will damage the UK’s leadership of the G7 and the climate summit later this year.
Britain’s credibility is also being damaged by threats to our own UK union and by the current dysfunctional relationship with the EU, our largest trading partner and the biggest, richest market in the world right here on our doorstep. Global Britain? More like parochial, shrunken Britain under this Government, sadly.
My Lords, unlike many noble Lords, many allies have welcomed the integrated review. I will make just three points from listening to this debate.
First, the most consequential meeting the United Kingdom will organise this year—even more important than the G7—is COP 26 in November. Our guests in Glasgow are entitled to ask what our contribution is. This week’s announcement of a 78% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2035 compared with 1990 goes a long way to answer that question, but 90% of the combined biodiversity of the UK and OTs is found in the OTs. What contribution will the OTs make to our climate objectives?
Secondly, I agree with the noble Lords, Lord Reid, Lord Howell, and Lord Hain, and others that raising the cap on our stockpile of nuclear warheads looks odd. I understand that a continuous at-sea deterrent needs us to be able to deploy two boats from time to time. The new ceiling allows both boats to be fully armed. But that does not increase deterrence. It is expensive and incompatible with our obligations under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. In 1968, the non-nuclear weapon states accepted that as their permanent status in exchange for two things: the sharing of the benefits of peaceful nuclear technology, and that nuclear weapon states would work towards nuclear disarmament. The Government assert that the objective is untouched, but the announcement is a step away from its achievement.
Thirdly, on organisation, I agree with my noble friend Lord Ricketts that we need institutional arrangements with the European Union. Internally, things are clearer. The merger of the Department for International Development and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office last year was an essential step to increase and maximise the coherence and impact of the UK’s overseas policy-making and policy delivery. Cutting the aid budget at the same time has made acceptance of this merger more difficult within the new department, but I still believe that it is the right thing to do and that we should go further—I hope that, before long, trade will fall under the authority of the Foreign Secretary.
Lastly, I have an organisational suggestion for the Opposition. In order to succeed, the FCDO needs everyone who works for it to buy into the new ministry. Some colleagues will feel justified in treating it as temporary for as long as there is a shadow Secretary of State for International Development. I urge the Opposition to correct that anomaly.
My Lords, the very first world leader to have a personal meeting with the new US President was the Prime Minister of Japan. The posture of China has understandably increased nervousness and alarm in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and elsewhere. That meeting underlined the significance of the renewed emphasis of our own commitment to the Indo-Pacific region, but this assessment in our integrated review also needs to be put in the context of our commercial considerations.
Japan chairs the CPTPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an area of rapid economic growth and opportunity, and is supporting our bid for membership. This is very important, as we need a strong economic power base to protect our own future prosperity and security. Japan is committed to a free and open Indo-Pacific region. In the face of the current undermining of the rules-based international order, I ask my noble friend how we can assertively promote our own long-standing commitment to such an international order, given its immense importance.
British geostrategy has been largely based on the Euro-Atlantic theatre. Our newly emphasised commitment to the Indo-Pacific region does not preclude Britain being at the very heart of the security of the Euro-Atlantic region, where the bulk of the UK’s security focus will remain—and with reason.
I chair the British Ukrainian Society. The massive build-up of Russian armed forces on the country’s border reminds us of Russia’s continuing aggression. It is truly astonishing that Nord Stream 2 will increase dependence on Russian gas supplies, which have been operated with pricing mechanisms according to purely political criteria. It is of course most damaging to the Ukrainian economy, which will now be bypassed. I ask my noble friend, given that the review describes Russia as the most acute direct threat, how in practice we can deal with the serious challenge it is presenting?
Furthermore, in Europe we must assert the absolute necessity of defence burden sharing. We can be grateful to the United States for continuing to pay 70% of NATO’s budget. Without this, our vulnerability in the European continent would be much greater.
The review recognises Euro-Atlantic interconnectivity with the Indo-Pacific, where Britain will establish a greater presence than any other European country—most welcome to our friends in the region and the United States.
Since independence, India has sought to pursue a foreign policy not linked to any particular international grouping. India is crucial as an investor in this country. I hope that democratic India can play its role increasingly in protecting the Indian Ocean. Through our enhanced naval capability, notably HMS “Queen Elizabeth”, I hope we can work with India to effect this. Additionally, our ambition to enhance our scientific capacity can be shared with the high digital skills base in that country.
I very much welcome the clear emphasis on science and technology. Our inventive genius has not always been matched by subsequent commercial success. Building on this vital area and helping explicitly to combat climate change must remain key pillars as we recommit to a more focused role in the world.
My Lords, it is conventional on these occasions—a maiden speech—to pay tribute to the officers and staff of this House. Having spent much of my professional career in journalism and think tanks debunking the conventional wisdom, it is now delightful to be able to break the habit of a professional lifetime to sing their praises with enthusiasm —the one thing that truly unites us all. I am delighted to do so today for the welcome they have afforded. The expertise and counsel has been very much appreciated by me, as I know they are by many other newcomers here, so I thank them for that.
I also thank my supporters, my noble friends Lord Strathclyde and Lord Howard of Lympne—known well to many here, of course, as a distinguished former Leader of the House and a path-breaking Home Secretary. Their advice and counsel through years have been much appreciated by me as well. I say this particularly because one of my noble friends is a hereditary and the other a life Peer. There has been some harsh criticism from the fourth estate, of which I was once part, of both hereditaries and life Peers. I place on the record here and now my appreciation for the welcome, counsel and wisdom of life Peers and hereditary Peers from all segments of this House. I look forward to learning more and hearing more of their wisdom in the years to come. I say this because the caricature in some portions of the fourth estate and the wider country and society of what has been going on in this House is utterly at variance with what I have experienced.
I say this because I am a Briton not by birth but by choice. I find the caricature of this country in certain quarters of debate as a mean-spirited and bigoted polity, again, utterly at variance with what I have experienced. I place on the record that and the pleasure I derived, in the greatest honour of my public life, from being able to swear allegiance to the sovereign and her successors. The welcome afforded in this country to a newcomer, an immigrant such as me, has always rested on my consciousness, and I am profoundly grateful for it.
I mention this because we are of course here today to discuss the integrated review. As its title suggests, with one of the words about an era of competition, we are of course facing competition from really mean-spirited polities, unlike this country—the critique we hear sometimes in certain quarters. I am grateful that Policy Exchange, the think tank for which I work, has, with its Indo-Pacific report, played its part in shaping debate on the integrated review.
Several things need to be said. The report commanded the attention of many figures in the Indo-Pacific region. It was chaired by Stephen Harper, with a foreword from Shinzo Abe. Commissioners included several Members of this House—the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, and the noble Baroness, Lady Falkner—who are here today. Alas, the traditions of this House prevent me acknowledging them in parliamentary terms as friends, but I have benefited from their counsel and insight through the years.
Several things should be noted about impact of the Indo-Pacific report and the wider integrated review. The first is that there was a tremendous welcome from the distinguished group of commissioners on the Indo-Pacific Commission for Britain’s tilt—to use the term of art—towards that region again. The idea that we had become an irrelevance post Brexit could not be further from the truth.
Another point that I think has been omitted at times is that this is not a backward-looking report; it is not nostalgic. It is forward-looking, putting space policy at the heart of an integrated strategy. Moreover, it puts space policy beyond the confines of Europe and into the UK’s greater role in the wider world. The National Cyber Force is another obvious example, alongside a tech envoy to increase our presence in Silicon Valley and beyond. All these things are scarcely evidence of a backward-looking or nostalgic policy.
I look forward to playing a further part in these debates and learning from noble friends and noble Lords across the House. Although criticisms have been levelled today, there is still the serious possibility of dialogue and of recreating some kind of consensus for the future. The integrated review shows the potential that exists there. I look forward to hearing further from noble Lords and to learning more in the days and weeks to come.
My Lords, it is more than an ordinary pleasure to follow the noble Lord, Lord Godson, making his maiden speech. In Scotland, one of the great put-down lines is “I kent his faither”. When I say it today, it is the opposite of a put-down and instead a recognition of the legendary Joe Godson, who would rightly be so proud of his son today. The noble Lord made a fine maiden speech. That should be expected, as he brings to the House a wealth of experience in journalism, authorship and, of course, as director of Policy Exchange, now one of Britain’s most highly regarded and influential think tanks. We will look forward to his future, well-informed contributions.
The integrated review is well written, comprehensive and surprisingly comprehensible. The authors have done a good job constructing what looks like a coherent, ambitious strategy for post-Brexit Britain. In some areas, such as its focus on domestic resilience, it captures new and important ground. Territorial defence will inevitably matter more in the future, as the current invasion by Covid-19 has shown us only too well.
I can, I fear, make only a few brief points in the time limit. First, I believe the review lacks a critical path—a prioritised route to implementation. A plan without that ingredient is in danger of being lost in the governmental undergrowth.
Secondly, the importance of diplomacy is still underestimated. Our Diplomatic Service has been relentlessly cut back in recent years, yet the rest of this review depends on the wise insights and intelligence coming from the Diplomatic Service in the Foreign Office. Reviving and investing in diplomacy will be crucial for the success of the review.
Thirdly, the trade-offs in the defence section between investing in combating the new threats and the continuing ones will remain open to serious debate. If we are to retain our place at the leadership edge of NATO, as we aspire to, our contribution has to rest on more than just the 2.2% statistic.
Fourthly, if we are, as the review asserts, to lead by example in the world, that ambition will, as others have said, be badly damaged by the cut in the legally mandated aid budget of 0.7% of GNI. That cut is hardly an advert for a law-abiding global Britain upholding the rules-based order, and it has been widely noticed.
There is much more to be said about this large and important review, but more is time needed by all of us here and elsewhere to say it. The sooner we get that opportunity, the better.
My Lords, first, I welcome the noble Lord, Lord Godson. It is very good to have him here, not only for his expertise, but because one thing that I think unites Members across this House is the need to improve our reputation with the fourth estate. I have no doubt that he will bring to the inside some of his experience from the outside and enable us to do that. I remind the House of my registered interest as the director of the Centre for the Resolution of Intractable Conflict at Oxford University.
I welcome the idea of an integrated review of this kind and much good work has been put into it. As the review makes clear, we face extraordinary and difficult challenges, requiring complex of approaches to address them properly. However, I found that there was a disjunction between two different approaches within the report. I would like to speak to them in two ways.
The first is general. On the one hand, the report—in some very thoughtful and properly troubling passages—describes how the international rules-based order has been breaking down. It makes it clear that, rather like Humpty Dumpty, it will not be possible to put it back together again. However, at the very beginning of the report, one gets the sense that everything is wonderful, we are doing marvellously and we are going to capitalise on our place in the rules-based international order. These two things do not seem to fit terribly well together. It appears that there is a real need to struggle intellectually with putting them together because we have major challenges.
The second area is more troubling and more immediately so. As I said, the draft by the Prime Minister at the beginning is very positive and upbeat. One can see his very particular phraseology in it and feels like saying “Rah, rah, rah!” at the end of it—until one reads the rest of the report and compares it with one’s knowledge of what is going on. This is profoundly troubling.
I have warned repeatedly in this House that we are already into the third global conflict in cyberspace and it is emerging in other spaces too. Let me give two examples of the urgency. First, Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the state-funded Russian media outlets RT and Sputnik, said that war with the US is inevitable. She believes that the conflict will break out when, not if, Vladimir Putin seizes more territory from Ukraine. Within the last two weeks she has said that there will be a kind of war driven by hacking and the forced disruption of internet access. She said:
“I do not believe that this will be a large-scale hot war, like World War II, and I do not believe that there will be a long Cold War. It will be a war of the third type: the cyber war.”
Turning now to the second example, as is known, I am a psychiatrist, and I have watched with bemusement what I can describe only as the mass hysteria in the response by many leaders, including European leaders, to the question of the vaccine. But the reasons became clear to me in the last few weeks when I had my friends do some research. AstraZeneca is being targeted by large-scale malign influence campaigns conducted by the Russian Federation, using bots to advance its economic and foreign policy goals. The Russian operation has been successful in having France and others disqualify the AZ vaccine from use in their populations. Russia has been adversely influencing things, as it has been in elections and the gilets jaunes campaign. If we do not inform our populations that this is going on, we can scarcely be surprised if they do not appreciate it.
My Lords, time is short so I will not waste too much of it on congratulations. I also think a huge amount of the review is to be welcomed. It presents a largely compelling view of the global security context and the defence and security challenges we face. I wholly agree about the character of a far more competitive world—one that exists in a perpetual state of aggressive, but primarily non-kinetic, rivalry below the threshold of what we have previously viewed as formalised warfare.
In principle, I do not take issue with the theory of achieving military advantage through technological superiority, though I worry that the seductive nature of technical novelty has led to a premature gamble on a further reduction in military capacity. I suspect that the true state of the defence budget is the reason for this gamble. I applaud the further moves to integrate action on multiple fronts and the need for a strategy of persistent engagement. I regret the review’s lack of emphasis on allies.
I have more serious reservations about the review. To explain them requires a short digression into some military doctrine: specifically, the three subordinate components of what we call fighting power. They are: the physical component, the means to fight—tanks, planes and ships; the conceptual component, by which the physical capabilities are coherently employed—strategy, operational art and tactics; and the moral component—the ability to get people to fight, which I abbreviate as the integrity of leadership combined with the moral superiority of purpose. The military doctrine of our nation believes that the full potential of fighting power is realised only when all three of these components are working in harmony.
I believe you can apply those components to an assessment of this review. The review is pretty good at the physical component. Indeed, historically the outcome of many reviews has been judged on that element alone: is the right amount of money being spent on the most appropriate equipment, human capability or departmental activity? Where the review lacks clarity is in accepting that in the context of our two principle threats, China and Russia, our most important weapons are not physical ones: rather, they lie in the cognitive domain. We need a more compelling narrative that better justifies our sense of moral authority and the superiority of the values that we promote and defend. This is why the moral component is so important, but I fear it is the moral component of our nation that is currently damaged because our national integrity is under threat. Brexit, the state of the union, tensions over race, the alienation of politics from society, the continued maldistribution of wealth and opportunity, and sleaze: all these things combine in varying degrees to undermine our integrity, and therefore our moral superiority, in a war of ideas.
The review has described some of the conceptual component, but the description is somewhat abstract and short of explanation as to how ideas are operationalised in practice. For example, what is the ethical, moral and legal framework within which we deploy autonomous weapons, harness artificial intelligence, destroy space-based targets and initiate or threaten offensive cyberattacks? In the battle of competing narratives about what is normal and legitimate, how do we successfully attribute the false claims and illegal acts of our enemies? How does our political leadership sustain legitimacy for its actions? How much of what is envisaged will be disclosed to society? Does the requisite of government even exist to fight this war? Who are the architects of the enduring strategy? Who are the authors of the competing political narratives, and how are the narratives disseminated? Can the NSC really achieve all this sitting for an hour every other Tuesday?
I suppose my fundamental question is: having identified through this review the Government’s best estimate of the character of future war, have we both the machinery and the mentality to prosecute the necessary campaign successfully? Are we both ready and organised for what we have apparently just discovered? My fear is that the war has started and that, at least for now, we are firmly on the defensive.
My Lords, I will start by paying tribute to someone who I know would have been speaking in this debate if he had been able to. Lord Judd, who died last weekend, spent his life devoted to peace and justice internationally. He would tell me of being with his father, who was the first ever director of the United Nations Association in this country, where he met my father, who had set up a branch in the north-east. Frank and my father later became colleagues in the Commons, and both had a driving commitment never to return to the horrors of the war that they had seen.
I went to Kenya at about that time with VSO for two years, and Frank later became its director. We both remained strong advocates of that organisation, and it is that which inspires me today. Frank was horrified at the way in which the Government changed the legally binding commitment of 0.7% of our GDP going to development aid and the manner in which VSO was being treated: the lack of clear decision-making, and arbitrary cuts leading to massive uncertainty and insecurity for all the people involved. However, it is clearly about more than this. It injures our reputation abroad, certainly in those developing countries where promises have been broken and programmes abandoned, and with those countries and organisations where partnerships have been forged but where the UK is no longer able to fulfil its commitments. It is not clear to me that the Government really understand the full extent of that.
It is of course the Government’s right to reset the UK’s position in the world, and the report we are discussing today has many ambitions within it. However, these ambitions depend on the countries that we seek to work with, and the international agencies we want to be a partner in, trusting us and believing that we will stick by our word. That is what is in danger of being lost.
I welcome the Foreign Secretary’s statement that he is looking to protect VSO, but what does this mean? Will the budget for volunteers for development be renewed at the original level of £16 million, or will the cuts of, in effect, 45% imposed so far on the short-term extensions be the extent of protection? Will the Government ensure that the programme, which they recognise as one of the most effective delivered by UKAID, is able to continue without the closure of work in countries where, even during the pandemic, real change around local communities’ response to Covid-19, protection for women and girls and working with local communities to build resilience against climate change in the most vulnerable countries have all been going on despite the cuts?
Soft power, as the Government have acknowledged, is an essential tool in modern international relations. Organisations such as VSO are the best soft power that the Government have. Will they therefore meet a very small, cross-party delegation to discuss this issue urgently?
My Lords, I welcome my local noble friend Lord Godson and thank him for showing so quickly the excellent contribution that he is going to make to our discussions.
I welcome the integrated review. It is a very brave undertaking by the Government. It is a remarkable document with a very bullish foreword by our Prime Minister. Of course, it is not just a defence review; it carries a host of intentions and undertakings in security, defence, development and foreign policy. It is going to be pretty fertile ground for regular reviews by Parliament of the various aims and ambitions that it expresses.
“to seek out and to understand future threats”.
In the brief time available, I will raise one threat that is referred to only briefly in the review, in connection with the nuclear deterrent, and pick up a theme mentioned by the noble Lord, Lord Reid. The integrated review restates the commitment to the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, but recognises that there is no early prospect of that, so instead announces the ordering of four new Dreadnought submarines to replace the Vanguards. So, far from the planned reduction of warheads, it announces an increase. That surprised me, and I understand the comments that others have made about that decision—and of course it includes the design of a new warhead. The review states:
“We will champion strategic risk reduction and seek to create dialogue among states possessing nuclear weapons, and between states possessing nuclear weapons and non-nuclear weapon states, to increase understanding and reduce the risk of misinterpretation and miscalculation.”
It is precisely that risk that I, like the noble Lord, Lord Reid, wish to highlight. The continuous at-sea deterrent operates in a totally different communications environment now from the safe, secure systems when it originally operated. We are living now in a world with ever-new developments, with cyberwarfare, ever-greater organised hacking systems, artificial intelligence, audio and videos called deep fakes and, on the side, an increasing interest by other countries in some of our undersea cables, which are important to some of our communication connections. The risk of misinterpretation and miscalculation is all the greater, and there is a vital need for effective hotlines at a top level between nuclear weapons states.
I have just learnt that France, as the new chair of the P5 process, has embraced the concept of strategic risk reduction and will make improving crisis communication technologies, such as hotlines, a key priority for discussion among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council ahead of and beyond the planned review conference of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty this August. I hope the Government will give this French initiative the greatest possible support and assistance. There is no question but that we live a more dangerous world at present, with the increasingly assertive role of Russia and China’s activities. It is a dangerous situation and nuclear miscalculation could be catastrophic. No time must be lost in addressing that.
My Lords, I welcome my noble friend Lord Godson to the Chamber. He mentioned that he has been a member of the fourth estate, as he put it, for many years. Perhaps we will see circumstances where poacher becomes gamekeeper. We look forward very much to hearing more of his thoughts in the days ahead.
Broadly speaking, I welcome the fact that there is a review. I welcome many of the ambitious proposals it contains on science and technology issues and cyber issues. All these things are very important and very valuable. We have seen how small a place the world has become, particularly in the past year when disease knows no boundaries.
However, one issue continues to worry me. I do not believe that we have succeeded in matching our resources, particularly in terms of defence, to our policy objectives. We have heard for decades about the black hole that exists in the MoD in its equipment and other budgets. When the noble Lord, Lord Hammond, was Secretary of State for Defence, we were told that this gap had been plugged. However, just as the 2010 review proved to be a major mistake, I think we are on the verge of making unnecessary mistakes this time.
I appreciate that we cannot look on defence purely in terms of numbers of troops and traditional equipment. The nature of warfare is changing, as many speakers have pointed out. However, I do not understand the idea that you can have all these international objectives—some of which I think are very good—but deliver them with a smaller army while getting rid of one of the principal mechanisms for moving troops and equipment around the world, the Hercules transport aircraft. If we are, quite correctly, trying to re-establish a footprint in the Indo-Pacific region, how that is to be achieved with fewer vessels at our disposal escapes me.
We still have not matched our resources. I do not believe that we can deliver these very valuable objectives within a remit of 2.2% of GDP. I just do not think it is possible. We have to rethink that all together. I do not like budgets that are ring-fenced by percentages: it has to be done on need and on a changing basis. We see that with the development budget, which so many speakers have already mentioned today. I feel, to put it colloquially, that our eye is bigger than our belly. We have these objectives, many of which are good, but we have not matched our financial resources to deliver them. I ask the Minister, particularly on defence, where I hope we will have further opportunities for more detailed debate, to bear in mind that with a shrunken military footprint we cannot deliver what are sometimes very valuable objectives.
My Lords, I declare my interest as vice-chair of and consultant to the Nuclear Threat Initiative. In the other place, Tobias Ellwood, anticipating the visit of General Austin, the US Secretary of Defense, said:
“our special relationship requires work.”
Predicting warm words about the special relationship and our planned investment in
“special forces, cyber and space resilience,”—[
Although those words reflect Labour’s criticism of the integrated review, I want to focus on another aspect of the review and what it means for the relationship with the US. In doing so, I shall expand upon one of the issues raised by my noble friend Lord Reid. The meeting took place last Thursday, but I can find no reference to what was discussed on the MoD’s website. Five days later, the DoD carried a readout, which makes the usual positive noises about the relationship, mentions Russia amassing of forces on Ukraine’s border and an orderly end to the war in Afghanistan. It has a reference, expanded upon in a terse and matter-of-fact joint statement, to past and continuing consultation on the review and strategic alignment.
There is no reference to consultation with the Biden Administration but rather between the respective defence departments. That difference is not lost on those who have been commenting on the gaping disparity now between our new nuclear weapons posture and that of President Biden, who has spoken of a national security imperative and moral responsibility to manage and eliminate the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction.
UK officials have been briefing on the review in the US. One, asked whether the removal of the cap had been discussed with the Biden Administration, responded that the Government wanted to report to Parliament first. As our current nuclear posture is more an echo of the Trump Administration’s 2019 posture review than the aspirations of the new President, was prior discussion with the DoD under the previous Administration? An increase in the cap on our nuclear weapons stockpile to more than 260 warheads is a significant reversal from the long-standing position on reducing numbers while maintaining a minimum deterrent force.
Equally concerning to Biden must be that while Russia and the US publicly declare their numbers, we will no longer publish details of our operational nuclear stockpile and deployed warheads and missiles. This is a significant blow to transparency. The justification so far is thin and unconvincing. The review lacks a compelling rationale for raising the warhead cap. There is a brief reference to an
“evolving security environment, including the developing range of technological and doctrinal threats,”— a reference to Russia’s new and planned nuclear systems. No explanation is given for how increasing the stockpile will provide a more credible deterrent, improve UK security or impress Moscow, whose nuclear force will continue to dwarf ours.
Now, we reserve the right to threaten nuclear use if a threat from chemical and biological weapons or “emerging technologies” makes it necessary. What does this really mean? This policy shift is not proportionate to the threat and under any circumstances is not credible. Would the UK ever use a nuclear weapon against a chemical, biological, or cyber attack? An expanded use policy for nuclear weapons is directly counter to Biden’s commitment to consult with allies about moving towards a “sole purpose” declaratory policy that the nuclear arsenal is only for deterring or retaliating against nuclear attacks.
Coming weeks after the announcement of the US and Russia agreeing to extend New START and to engage in successor agreement discussions, this flies in the face of this new opportunity to stop the nuclear arms race. When its closest ally moves in a contrary direction, it presents a significant barrier for the new Biden Administration. Will the Minister expand on the joint statement agreed between Ben Wallace and General Austin? When did consultation take place? What was the US response to what is universally now interpreted as an inexplicable abdication of the long-standing leadership role on nuclear disarmament by policy change, counter to Biden’s commitment to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and his commitment to sole purpose?
My Lords, I am very glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong, said what she said about Frank Judd. I associate myself with it and add only that he was an excellent Minister for Defence and Development and in the Foreign Office, and always a genuinely good man.
Foreign friends are relieved that the Government’s puzzling new definition of sovereignty, which has obliged us at such considerable cost to sever economic, commercial and social ties with our European neighbours, apparently does not extend to NATO or United Nations obligations, or to the rules-based international order. The review shows that rules are okay provided they are not European, which is still a bit puzzling but good news. I welcome the linkage of domestic and international aspects of security and the new emphasis on a whole-of-society approach to resilience.
However, I find the hubris grating and mourn the death of British self-deprecation. I recall Lord Carrington’s reaction when Helmut Schmidt, his German Defence Secretary counterpart, told him that what made the UK crucial to European security was not so much 55,000 combat-ready troops forward-based in Germany, but German certainty that we could be trusted; if the balloon went up, the Brits would be there, and there was German certainty that Moscow knew that too. Back then, we did not shout about it. We carried a much bigger stick than we now do, but we spoke much more softly and carried more conviction.
Does President Putin, with his troops massing against the Donbass, pause to ponder how we might act on our 1994 commitment to the Ukraine’s security? I doubt it. Does President Xi, as he contemplates Taiwan, worry about our carrier deployment? I doubt it. A rather small gorilla beating its chest risks looking a little ludicrous. The Carringtons and Heaths, the Callaghans and Healeys—the generation who knew war and understood security—would not have been quite so hubristic. Of course, they would have agreed that it makes sense to subordinate national sovereignty to allied solidarity, and autarchy to mutually agreed rules, but they would have warned that what matters most is to retain a reputation for reliability. The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, is right that brutal 50% cuts to bilateral aid hurt us as well as the world’s poorest, and we surely shock the world by passing a law to break international law and tear up a newly minted treaty, gravely damaging global Britain.
One cannot rebuild a reputation by shouting about what one intends. Actions speak louder than words. We must see ourselves as others see us, remember Helmut Schmidt’s tribute, and seek to rebuild trust. The fine words of the review cannot do that for us. Only our actions can.
My Lords, I draw attention to my interests in the register of Members’ interests.
Security, defence, foreign policy and development should always be co-ordinated, but that does not mean that they must all be in one department, nor that the existence of DfID for the last 20 years has compromised the UK’s diplomatic reach. Indeed, I believe that the opposite has been the case. The UK has many strengths and we should play to them. We also have weaknesses and we should address them. That said, it is not clear from the review exactly what the UK’s positioning in the world will be. Talk of maintaining our commitment to and engagement with Europe, while apparently also wanting to increase our influence on the Indo-Pacific region, smacks of a yearning for a past that cannot be recovered.
The UK is a trading nation but our capacity to trade is weak. Our science and technology, much of which is truly world-class, lacks a manufacturing capacity to achieve the export strength that we need. Our success in helping to develop and roll out the Covid vaccines has been achieved through international co-operation, something the Government seem reluctant to acknowledge. Yet co-operation with the EU and the developing world is essential to eliminating the virus and protecting us against future pandemics. At the same time, a poor post-Brexit agreement with the EU has weakened our services base, which has been our strongest suit. The graphic on page 8 of the review is revealing of the blinkered and prejudiced mindset. It states:
“The UK has a seat in every major multilateral organisation” and lists the 10 that it is referring to, but the EU is not one of them. Clearly, it is no longer an international organisation regarded as major by the UK Government. Relationships with China are crucial and delicate. How much of a stand are we prepared to make on the dismantling of democracy in Hong Kong and the exclusion of Taiwan from international organisations, not least the WHO?
The review presents the UK as footloose global Britain, able to dart in and out wherever our interests require it. Yet the decisions that this Government have taken will keep the world and UK citizens guessing. To have sustained influence requires co-operation, trust, consistency and respect. Looking at the UK from the outside presents a baffling and confusing identity. What cannot be gainsaid is that the Government have raised the defence budget’s share of GNI by 0.2 percentage points and increased our nuclear warheads, while, at the same time, official development assistance has been cut by 0.2 points. The message is clear: the UK is switching its emphasis from soft power to hard power. This is reinforced by the incorporation of DfID into the FCDO, subordinating aid spending to diplomatic leverage.
Prioritising east Africa and Nigeria must also make other African countries wonder where they stand. What does that mean for Ghana, Sierra Leone, the newly reborn Gambia, Malawi or Zambia? The cuts in aid have sent shockwaves through development NGOs and humanitarian charities. UK aid and development partners recognise that the aid budget does not exist for their benefit, but the Government know that the reach of our development programmes cannot be achieved without these partners.
Cuts on this scale, implemented at speed, will be highly damaging and disruptive not only to the development partners but, more importantly, to the beneficiaries. The cuts necessitated by the pandemic downturn, amounting to £2.9 billion, were severe enough, and are only now being felt. To add to those cuts an even more severe reduction will do incalculable harm. There is a need for more official development assistance, not less, if we are to make the world safe from the present and future pandemics, rebuild damaged livelihoods, end absolute poverty and leave no one behind. To achieve that, the UK will need expert partners, whose capacity will be seriously eroded by such savage and, so far, unspecified cuts. Such short-term twists and turns are no way to run a long-term aid strategy. This looks more like a disintegrated review.
My Lords, the document read to me as “how to fight the last war” rather than “how to face up to the future”. I have one or two comments about the soft power aspects in particular.
The Council of Europe, of which I am a member, has been looking at the 100th anniversary of the Geneva conventions. Very recently, the European Court of Human Rights brought in a very interesting judgment which people say has thrown everything into confusion, but I think has clarified it. It said that you cannot apply human rights while a conflict is in progress. It throws us back into looking at how the Geneva conventions will be applied at all, but it is common sense. If you have people shooting at each other in the street, you can hardly run out and say, “Excuse me, item 13 says that you must point that this way”. That is one way in which we will have to reclassify how we look at how we wage war.
Secondly, of course, is the long debate over the aid changes. I think the Government are wrong; they should not have cut the aid. But the aid agencies have had too soft a ride for too long a time. I talked to someone in the aid business about the Oxfam debacle and all they could say was, “Well, Oxfam got found out, you know, they are all up to it.” Instead of cutting back the aid budget, the Government should have got to grips with the way in which it was being used and spent, because that was, and remains, the real problem.
But let us not think of it as aid. We think of it as giving pennies to the poor, but it is not. It is investing in common sense. I am one of the few people in this House who are prepared publicly to say nice things about David Cameron, whom I worked for. David always insisted that the reason for increasing the aid budget was to make the countries we were assisting places where people wanted to live in preference to being refugees and trying to come to live in our country. He had quite a clear view. I remember when the proposal came out to increase the budget. Some asked—these were the words—“Why are you adopting a Labour proposal?” He said, “It is not a Labour proposal; it is a common-sense proposal. It is a proposal to make the countries better places for the people already living there, and it is a very wise investment of money.” The Government have been remiss in not carrying on with that.
Finally, we need to look a bit harder at NATO. For a time, I was vice-chair of the European Parliament’s sub-committee on defence. We discovered that NATO had enormous problems. It could not get its tanks over bridges. If it wanted to cross frontiers within NATO member states, it had to get permission, and it was made quite clear to us that, in some instances, that permission would not be granted. We tried, but what is now needed—HMG could well put some effort into this—is to get NATO operable and into a position where it can actually do something. At the moment, the restrictions on it stop it doing anything.
My Lords, the integrated review, and its accompanying Defence Command Paper and industrial strategy paper, have gone some way to addressing the mistakes made in the awful 2010 defence review and the somewhat less disastrous 2015 strategic defence review. What is particularly to be welcomed is that the threat has been put very much to the fore, and for that much credit should go to the Secretary of State for Defence. We see cyber, artificial intelligence and space being given due and proper attention.
The review lays emphasis on global Britain, and in so doing recognises that forward deployment and persistent engagement need to be essential ingredients of the Armed Forces construct. As part of that, a refreshed maritime strategy is given appropriate prominence. There is a promising forward shipbuilding programme to support this, but in the short to medium term, we will see the frigate force shrink below its already emaciated size. Frigates are the key element in persistent forward presence. Once again, I ask what can be done to speed up the delivery of Type 26 and Type 31 ships currently in build and shortly to be ordered. It is incomprehensible that we will not see the first of the new ships operational until well into the second half of this decade. I hardly need say that any sort of attrition—a word, by the way, that is conspicuous by its absence in the review and is equally relevant to our land and air forces—would be a serious setback. What attention has been given in the review to the matter of attrition in general?
Regarding the review’s concept of forward deployment, it is encouraging to see the strong manifestation of this with the deployment of the carrier strike group to the Indo-Pacific this summer. I hope the Minister will confirm that, among other things, opportunities will be sought to strengthen our alliances out there, such as the Five Power Defence Arrangements, the FPDA; to look for ways to create bonds with the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, the Quad; and not to shy away from exerting our right to freedom of navigation through the South China Sea. Such things have important relevance to global Britain.
To pick up on the intention set out in the review to increase the ceiling of our overall nuclear stockpile from no more than 180 warheads by the mid-2020s to no more than 260 warheads, this measure seems to have raised alarm in some quarters, but I applaud the Government’s courage and the wisdom of taking it. We profess to having the absolute minimum credible deterrent, but the word “credible” is valid only if the missiles can get to their target. With the potential opposition improving daily their nuclear capabilities, including anti-ballistic missile systems, this is a necessary measure. It does not involve building new warheads, although a replacement programme in due course is under consideration. I remind those who say that this sets a bad example that our good example of reductions in nuclear firepower over the past couple of decades has absolutely not been followed by any nuclear weapons state which may be unfriendly. In fact, it is quite the contrary: they have all significantly increased their nuclear arsenals and capabilities.
My Lords, in many ways the integrated review acknowledges with greater force than we have seen before from a UK Government the arguments that the Green Party has made for decades—that security can be achieved only in a stable environment and that the climate emergency and nature crisis are a threat to all our futures. That is driven home today with the HadCRUT5 global temperature series showing that the average global temperature for 2020 was 1.3 degrees—plus or minus 0.1 degrees—above preindustrial levels.
Much of the overarching rhetoric of the integrated review could have been written by the intellectual thought leaders in this area: the Rethinking Security network. But, as many noble Lords have pointed out, the text fails to acknowledge or make difficult choices. It fails to meet its ambition to set a path for the next 10 years.
I will briefly pick up three elements the Minister highlighted in his introduction. First, on science and technology, the review talks about Britain being a world leader and innovator—something that the Government frequently major on—but in such a narrow range of fields. The Minister referred to artificial intelligence and renewables, and I cannot disagree with the last one. But ask a farmer, crucial to food security, or an ecologist, crucial to the nature-based solutions to the climate emergency that the Government like to talk about, what science they need, and it is not those. Protecting our soils, using agroecological systems for food production, managing our freshwaters and seas and understanding the complexity of life on earth are absolutely fundamental to security. There are an estimated 1.7 million undiscovered types of viruses in vertebrates. We have brilliant experts in this and many other fields; let us celebrate and fund them—not just to treat the diseases after they have arisen but to understand the underlying systems.
Secondly, the Minister spoke in an unqualified way about trade delivering jobs and prosperity. I fundamentally question that assertion. We have come to the end of a period of a massive explosion in global trade and are in an insecure, poverty-stricken and environmentally trashed world. The harm done by some trade is obvious. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute tells us that sales of arms and military services by the largest 25 companies totalled $361 billion in 2019. Of course, included in that are our sales to Saudi Arabia, a regime with one of the worst human rights records on this planet and, of course, a key proponent in the dreadful war destroying Yemen.
Thirdly, I come to aid. I am really quite astonished that the Minister chose to highlight the Government’s prioritising of girls’ education on the day that Save The Children concludes that spending on education for girls will be reduced by 25% in 2021 compared to 2019-20. Perhaps the Minister can confirm whether that is correct. It is a long-time Green Party policy to lift that aid figure to 1%—clearly the direction of greater security.
Finally, I come to the astonishing and deeply disturbing changes in nuclear doctrine and practice. I associate myself particularly with the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, and with others who questioned this. Some observers have pointed out that lifting a cap is not lifting numbers. If this is just an empty gesture, a rhetorical firebrand playing tough to a domestic audience in the culture war, then it is a truly dangerous and immoral one. If it is a real plan to increase the number of these hideous weapons of mass destruction, it is also deeply dangerous and immoral, as is the widening of the doctrine for their use.
This review is glancing in a new direction for security, and yet it firmly continues to wade forward through the swamp of inequality, militarism and environmental destruction.
My Lords, I should note my entries in the register of interests. I would also like to note that this integrated review is in many ways a development of the work of British Governments over nearly 20 years, in trying to bring together defence, diplomacy and development policy, strategy and implementation. It was begun under the last Labour Government, under both Prime Ministers, who not only tried to improve the way in which the British Government worked in relation to the integration of policy within the UK but spoke out for that internationally as well. It was developed under the Cameron Administration, particularly by the noble Lord, Lord Hague, and Andrew Mitchell, as Secretary of State for DfID, and it is welcome that we have another integrated review to take this forward. The disappointment is in the content, not in the concept.
While I welcomed this review after the election in 2019, at that time I was also welcoming the fact that the new Government were committed to 0.7% of GNI on official development assistance. While one promise has been broken, and potentially a law has been broken, in the other case, this review has failed to match the high ambitions that were perhaps initially set for it.
There can be no doubt that in any conflict situation around the world where our security interests are of concern, an integrated approach to policy is essential in securing investment in development with good, strong diplomacy supporting human rights, democracy and the values that we put forward as a country, alongside the need for military power, or at least the potential for military intervention. Whether we are in the Sahel or south-east Asia—in Myanmar at the moment—or anywhere else in the world, the integration of these three approaches is absolutely critical. There can also be no doubt that, in all these situations, conflict and instability is caused by poverty, poor governance and a lack of opportunity. The prevention of conflict and of security threats, has, at its core, dealing with those issues of poverty, lack of opportunity and poor democracy and human rights. It is simply not possible to bomb grievances, ideas and dreams out of people’s heads. We have to deal with the root causes of conflict and instability, which is why defence, diplomacy and development have to go hand in hand.
If Frank Judd, the late Lord Judd, had been with us today, he would have said that the key word here is not “integrated” but “interdependence”. The interdependence of our world today is seen more clearly in 2020 than perhaps ever before, in a pandemic that began with a virus, almost certainly in China, but ended up closing schools in every continent in the world, shutting down trade routes and travel and having an impact far beyond its origins. That interdependence surely leads us to think again, and I hope to think again about these cuts to official development assistance, where we have invested, as a country, in democratic institutions, human rights and better governance, as well as tackling the impact of extreme poverty and lack of opportunity.
The question in 2021 and beyond, and for generations that follow us, will be to look back and say: were the rich, powerful countries of the world willing to step up and bring the global community together after this pandemic, or were we willing to let it fall apart? On the key issue of development, alongside diplomacy and defence—not two and a half but all three together—this review falls short.
My Lords, I too welcome the noble Lord, Lord Godson, to this House. He was once described as one of London’s most influential people. I look forward to his influencing Members of this House to like this country as much as he and I do, both of us being adoptive to this country.
I congratulate the Government on the publication of the integrated review. It is thoughtful and comprehensive. A review drawing together the threads of foreign policy, defence, national security and international development into a coherent whole was long overdue. The review has many original features. Its so-called tilt to the Indo-Pacific region has perhaps attracted the most public attention. We learn from the media that its first manifestation will be the despatch to the region next month of a carrier strike group, led by HMS “Queen Elizabeth”. Can the Minister confirm that the strike group will be deployed to the South China Sea to underline our attachment to the law of the sea and international freedom of navigation?
It is also reported that, en route to the Far East, a Royal Navy destroyer and frigate from the strike group will stop off in the Black Sea to offer support to the Government and people of Ukraine, who are yet again being placed under unacceptable pressure by the Russian Government, who have massed over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s eastern frontier. As the Prime Minister’s first trade envoy to Ukraine—I hereby declare my interest—I warmly welcome our Government’s wholehearted support for Ukraine’s territorial integrity. We are playing a crucial role in helping Ukraine rebuild its infrastructure and defence capability. Only three days ago, our two countries signed an agreement to expand Operation Orbital, which provides for co-operation between our Armed Forces. It is, I hope the House will agree, a clear example of the UK putting its money where its mouth is—in this case, practical action to buttress democracy and national sovereignty in a friendly state.
Given that the integrated review named Russia as
“the most acute threat to our security”,
I suggest to the Minister that the dangerous situation on Ukraine’s eastern border urgently demands a twin-track approach to deter aggression—namely, not only a naval acte de présence in the Black Sea, but a determined British diplomatic initiative to help our French and German friends revive the Minsk II protocol, which is today all but dead.
My Lords, the review we are debating today is an impressive and perceptive analysis of the threats, challenges and opportunities that this country faces as it charts its way in a new chapter of its history, following our departure from the European Union, so it should be welcomed. There are some blemishes, of course, including the silliness of the reluctance to mention the European Union except in passing. Less estimable, I suggest, is the fact that the cart of key security decisions—the merger of the FCO and DfID, the savage cuts in the overseas aid budget and the detail of defence spending over the next few years—has preceded the horse of the review. Those decisions should surely have been shaped by the review, not have pre-empted it.
One overall impression stands out: Britain can no longer hope to overcome these threats and challenges acting alone. We need allies and partners if we are to prevail. In the period following Brexit and four years of alliance disruption and disregard from President Trump’s White House, that is no small order. That challenge is underlined by last week’s decision by the US to withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by September, best characterised tersely by our own Chief of the Defence Staff as
“not a decision we hoped for”.
What should we think about the much-trumpeted tilt towards the Indo-Pacific? Leave aside the fact that the review does not even give geographical definition to that region. Does it begin in east Africa and extend to the western coast of Latin America? Does it include Pakistan, for example? Is it welcome to our closest ally, the US, or would it have preferred us to put more effort into Euro-Atlantic security and into Africa, where it has never been deeply engaged?
It is a pity more was not said about multilateral peacekeeping by the UN and by regional organisations such as the African Union. With the retreat from coalitions of the willing expeditions, such as those to Iraq and Afghanistan, there will inevitably be more demand for peacekeeping if some parts of the world are not to fall into chaos and insecurity. But that sort of peacekeeping needs to be made more effective and, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council, we have a responsibility to provide training, mentoring, specialised services, and equipment.
The sections of the review on nuclear weapons policy have been criticised by many others. I suggest that they lack any developed rationale, let alone any justification. Just when the two largest possessors of these weapons have frozen their strategic missile arsenals for another five years, we are going to head off in the opposite direction, thus undermining our capacity to pursue the objective of strategic stability at this year’s Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The doctrine of “deliberate ambiguity” as to the numbers of our warheads and the purposes for which they might be used, which has been proudly proclaimed by the Government as a new kind of doctrine, does not strengthen our security at all. If all nuclear weapon possessor states practised that doctrine, would we be less at risk from nuclear war? I rather doubt that.
In conclusion, the review, if not some of its policy prescriptions, is welcome but we will soon see whether there is a gap between rhetoric and reality as it is put into practice. I fear there will be.
My Lords, I will focus my comments on aid and international development. Before I start, I declare my interests as listed in the register. I am a consultant for NDI, the National Democratic Institute, which offers training and support to fledgling democracies.
When it comes to international development, the integrated review confirmed many of aid sector’s fears. By ending the UK’s commitment to spending 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid, the Government are abandoning the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people when they need our support most. In doing so, the Government are not only breaking their own manifesto commitments but making it more difficult for the UK to achieve its foreign policy objectives. This benefits no one.
The review talks of the UK being a force for good in the world, but that simply cannot be reconciled with the decision to slash the aid budget. The cuts will mean a reduction of up to 60% of the support we give to Yemen, one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world, and by cutting programmes in Iraq and Syria, where the Foreign Secretary has previously accepted that humanitarian work is essential to the security efforts to counter ISIS, the UK could now be leaving fertile ground for future insurgencies.
As a country, we also have a unique responsibility as host of the crucial COP 26 climate summit in Glasgow this year to lead the way on tackling the climate crisis we face together. As Save the Children said yesterday, on hearing the first details of how the cuts will be imposed, these cuts are
“slashing aid to communities on the front line of that crisis.”
By cutting development programmes we are sending all the wrong signals to our allies and partners. We are undermining our diplomatic efforts—the polar opposite of what the strategic review was intended to achieve. Of course, these historic aid cuts follow the senseless decision of the dissolving of the world-leading Department for International Development. I have still not heard a coherent argument as to why that happened. As the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, said, decisions have been made that are shaping the review but which should have followed the review, not be made before it.
The Government’s failure to provide details of the impact that aid cuts will have on country-specific programmes means continued uncertainty for the aid sector and the vital projects that rely on the UK. The UK should focus its efforts on poverty alleviation, meeting the SDGs, and multiplier programmes such as education and nutrition. Above all, the UK needs a coherent approach to sustainable development and a clear vision that reflects the values we hold as a country. While the review offers a fleeting mention of a development strategy to be published at a later date, Ministers have not been able to give any information on when that will appear. Can the Minister confirm when the strategy will be published, and can she also confirm that the FCDO is fully engaging development NGOs in the drafting of the strategy? After all, it is only through meaningful engagement with civil society that government can benefit from those with the best-available knowledge, evidence and expertise on global development.
My Lords, recent thinking and experience points to a growing third part to our defence and security, that which lies between active overseas participation and defensive preparation: the grey zone of hostile acts that fall short of open warfare but which are nevertheless profoundly troublesome and which must be countered in that grey zone.
One aspect of this has been the setting up of the National Cyber Force as an offensive unit. This introduces a new doctrine of offensive actions as well as, and apart from, the traditional role of intelligence gathering in all its methods, from SIGINT to HUMINT. I have raised this topic before, and the noble Baroness, Lady Goldie, kindly wrote to me to explain the new arrangement for control of the National Cyber Force. She said that the National Cyber Force commander
“will report to both Defence and GCHQ. The first Commander of the National Cyber Force is currently a civilian employee of GCHQ. They are not being named as, while National Cyber Force is publicly avowed, it is not public facing.”
There seems to be a distinct lack of a clear chain of command in this response. Perhaps that is not so surprising, since the new force is yet to bring together and blend what were clearly distinct areas of responsibility for two different Secretaries of State.
Nevertheless, a committee-type structure to run or oversee live operations, with all their potential hazards, is a recipe for mismanagement and divided, unclear responsibility. That is not satisfactory. While I recognise that we are at the early stages of setting up this new force, I was and still am concerned about the chain of command and responsibilities of the two Secretaries of State involved. It might at first blush be reasonable to assume that the offensive use employed is directly either a defence or a Security Service action. But if it is not already—very soon in cyber strategy terms—such a distinction will become blurred or non-existent.
While the examples quoted by the Government for offensive cyber action are clear-cut, there could, as capabilities mature, be abilities to disrupt national infrastructures, for example. While the possible targets should and must remain secret, the legal, human rights, ethical and political considerations cannot be ignored. Will the Intelligence and Security Committee be given an overwatch role on offensive cyber force operations? There is surely such a role for Parliament, and this should be clear from the outset.
My Lords, I thank the Minister for his very helpful introduction. This review is long-awaited and good in parts. I welcome in particular the establishment of the counterterrorism operations centre and the National Cyber Force. The review gives a correct analysis of the threat from both Russia and China. Russia is now massing more than 100,000 troops at the borders of Ukraine for what it calls an exercise. China poses the dilemma of how we strike an appropriate balance between competition and co-operation while being true to our values.
However, my first criticism of the review is that, despite it being overseen by a professional historian—the son of the noble Lord, Lord Bew—it lacks a historical perspective. There is no adequate appraisal of our reduced role since 1945 and our limited economic resources, with a clear need now to prioritise more carefully and see where we can add value. In my judgment, the review excessively reflects the personal views of the Prime Minister, who was unable, both in his introduction to the review in the House of Commons and in his foreword to the review itself, even to mention the words “European Union”, as if it were a four-letter word. His foreword ends with a typical nostalgic flourish, with a paragraph entitled,
“British leadership in the world in 2021”.
The Prime Minister’s attitude contrasts with that of the noble Lord, Lord Hague, with his soft Brexit approach. I noted particularly his article in last week’s Times, where he did not show any visceral hostility, but rather a recognition that, post Brexit, we still need a special relationship with our immediate neighbours. The Prime Minister claims a new independence, but this might, in fact, lead us more and more into the slipstream of the US, as we saw in the timing of our exit from Afghanistan.
We need to look more carefully at our strengths and weaknesses. Until recently, before the controversy over the Northern Irish protocol, we could cite our adherence to the rule of law as one of our key values. Now, as the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, has argued elsewhere, we have lost the high ground in our criticisms of China over Hong Kong. We have a remarkable past, but are no longer in the Premier League, even if we are at the top of the Championship, with legitimate claims to be a soft power superpower.
Before the publication of the review, which was a worthwhile exercise in itself, we had the two changes: the folding of DfID into the FCO and the reduction of overseas aid. Both should have been seen at the same time as the review.
Other reflections include the tilt to the Indo-Pacific—a possible echo of east of Suez. Will it be welcome to the US, or would it prefer us to be closer to the northern Atlantic? A recent poll from the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies showed that only 3.7% of respondents saw the UK as their preferred strategic partner after the US. Will closer links to the Indo-Pacific region compensate for the loss of influence in Europe?
Some of our values, of course, are in the field of soft power, yet there are contradictions, such as the shabby way in which VSO has been treated. We used to pride ourselves on being a bridge between the US and the European Union, and being a gateway for foreign investment into the European Union—no longer. It is claimed that we have lost an empire and are searching for a role. On the basis of this review, we have left the European Union and are still searching for a role.
My Lords, when, in 1992, Francis Fukuyama heralded the post-Cold War ascendency of western liberal democracy as “the end of history”, he was somewhat premature. Global democracy has looked pretty rocky of late, with the latest example being the coup in Myanmar. The western system of democracy is under attack and being undermined, as the integrated review suggests. A large number of millennials in the US, Europe and the UK are questioning the legitimacy of democracy, just as large numbers of Hong Kongers have fought for it. Around half or slightly less of the world’s population live in a democracy. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s measure of democracy, in 2016 the US was demoted from a full democracy to a flawed democracy.
The integrated review is part of our fightback. The rise of China does not mean the inevitable decline of the West and our values. I had the privilege of presenting the European Parliamentary Labour Party’s submission to the 1998 strategic defence review by the then Defence Secretary, now the noble Lord, Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, whom we heard earlier. The current integrated review claims to be the most significant foreign policy and security review since then.
I do not intend to repeat all the points well made by many noble and gallant Lords and experts in the field today. However, I agree that the integrated review lacks focus and a sense of prioritisation. It is, in a sense, too broad and too ambitious. Crucially, it is not at all apparent, even given the boost in defence expenditure, that this will meet the review’s stated aims, some of which appear contradictory.
I welcome the Indo-Pacific tilt as a case in point, as a recognition of the region’s growing economic and geopolitical importance. However, it is not clear how much resource will be allocated to the tilt to make it meaningful. The Indo-Pacific tilt also has implications for NATO, which the review says will remain the foundation of our collective security. Should this not result in NATO itself adapting to the new geopolitical reality of developments in the Indo-Pacific? HMS “Queen Elizabeth” will make its first deployment to the region, and that should be an opportunity for the UK to show its friends and allies in the region, including South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand, that we are committed to free navigation in international waters and stand with them against any threats of aggression.
I must say something about cuts to the Army. Cyber and AI are very important, but they do not enable us to retake Port Stanley on the Falklands. For some operations you still need quite a few boots on the ground. The tooth-to-tail ratio, or combat-spear element, has been in decline since the First World War. That might result in better logistics, support and care, but the reality is that only about 20% to 25% of our troops do the fighting. With a force of 72,500, that leaves at best 18,000 Armed Forces personnel to do the actual front-line fighting on the ground. That is not enough to take and hold a small town.
Finally, the review overstates Russia’s capabilities and underestimates those of China. It has been a major geostrategic error to encourage Moscow and Beijing to seek an ever-closer union. On Russia, the immediate emphasis now should be on all parties implementing the Minsk agreements and standing down their forces on the borders, which I believe, in Russia’s case, has already begun.
My Lords, I congratulate the Government on the publication of the integrated review and on the repositioning of Britain, as we begin this next chapter in our nation’s history.
I applaud our commitment to facing up to the changing world in which we find ourselves and the determination to emerge match fit to face a more competitive world—but one in which we hold on to our own values of democracy and our way of life, freedom of speech and our commitment to the rule of law and voluntary exchange. I also applaud our commitment that these remain the best model for the social and economic advancement of humankind.
However, the review rightly notes that China’s growing international stature is by far the most significant geopolitical factor in the world today, with major implications for British values and interests and for the structure and shape of the international order. However, we appear to adopt two independently competing positions in our response to China. First, we declare China to be
“the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security.”
However, secondly, we commit to “deeper trade links” and “more Chinese investment” in the UK.
As we witness China’s behaviour in Hong Kong and against the Uighurs, as we observe the breaking of WTO protocols in ongoing trade wars with our closest allies and as we uncover the threat to our intellectual property, we have to ask whether this is a sustainable strategy. If this is a holding strategy, at what point do the Government believe that this balancing act needs to come to an end, and what steps are the Government taking to ensure that we are match fit and not vulnerable if the time comes to change our position? If this is a long-term strategy, what action are the Government taking to protect the UK from the “biggest state-based threat” to our economic security?
I also draw attention to the review’s approach towards the continent of Africa. The review says,
“We will be active in Africa”.
Later, it says:
“We will work in partnership with South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ethiopia and Ghana”.
However, there is then very little more in the review. Africa, as a continent, has huge potential: prosperity in Africa is at its highest ever level, the world’s ten fastest-growing cities are in Africa, and African cities make up 40 of the top 50. Growing these markets will be essential for the development of global economic openness and security initiatives in the region. Could my noble friend the Minister outline our strategy for the development of trade relationships and investment, where appropriate, in Africa?
My final comment is on the development element of the review. I welcome the commitment to supporting emerging nations to become self-sufficient through trade and economic growth, but I ask the Minister to consider a two-fold strategy. Our work on How Nations Succeed found that the most successful examples of development came in nations that took responsibility for driving their own transformation. This presents a raft of opportunities for the UK to devise a new approach to cultivating and supporting the development of prosperity in emerging nations as a new development strategy, which would then allow us to focus our traditional aid budget on crisis response, which is where the British people are so extraordinarily generous in responding.
There is much in this review that is outstanding, but I ask the Minister to consider the circumstances in which we would come off the fence in relation to China, the opportunities that exist for mutual relationships with the nations of the African continent, and a new approach to supporting the long-term development of nations.
My Lords, the review rightly identifies that the risks of unsustainable population growth, pandemics, global warming and unconstrained migration are a backdrop to all the decisions that we are making. Taken in conjunction with harnessing rapidly changing technological advances, such as AI, quantum computing, the use of space, hypersonic missiles, robotics and unmanned combat vehicles, warfare is clearly changing.
The Defence Secretary is right in preparing for future wars, not past battles—but he is being economical with the truth when he calls this the biggest defence investment since the end of the Cold War. Notwithstanding the much-welcomed four-year uplift to defence spending, announced last November, the key driver of this review has been cost. Talk of
“giving us deployable, capable forces, equipped with next-generation capabilities” is not able to disguise a further reduction in our nation’s overall military capability. Clearly, there needs to be investment in technology—space, cyber et cetera, as I mentioned—but this puts ever more pressure on an already overstretched budget. The plan as presented has a great deal of jam tomorrow but pain today. Should there be conflict in the short term—when you look around the world, you see that there might well be one—we would have to fight with what we have got.
One of the most striking aspects of the integrated review, mentioned by a number of speakers, was the change to UK’s nuclear posture. There are a number of sensible possible rationales for some of the changes but, without doubt, the increase in future holdings of warheads has huge a diplomatic downside. These changes need to be much more clearly explained. Under Putin’s direction, Russia has spent billions modernising its nuclear forces, but of more concern is its development of new, more devastating, nuclear delivery systems—some of them are quite horrifying—ditto China. This nuclear dimension is of greater concern in view of the collapse of international agreements to limit numbers of warheads, types of delivery systems and the complex confidence-building measures that used to be in place to avoid the risks of war by miscalculation. Again, this needs to be resolved and addressed.
The review quite rightly reinforces the commitment to, and importance of, the NATO alliance for UK and European security. France’s President Macron is looking forward to an entirely new transatlantic “security architecture” for the 21st century: his vision is an all-European defensive collective that is armed up and can act independently and ahead of, in his words, a brain-dead NATO. The idea is delusional and highly damaging both to NATO and the security of Europe. President Biden has made sweeping declarations that Europe and the United States must again “trust in one another”, but President Macron’s agenda seems to cross his bows, and our nation needs to be wary of being drawn into this European army defence quagmire.
I am delighted that the Government have recognised the importance of sovereign capability in procurement and its importance for national resilience and indeed the economy. The decision to base our defence and security on a maritime strategy is welcomed and absolutely the right thing to do. As you can imagine, it was music to my ears to hear the Prime Minister say:
“If there is one policy that strengthens the UK in every possible sense, it is building more ships for the Royal Navy”.—[Official Report, Commons, 19/11/20; col. 488.]
A highly capable and resilient globally mobile military will help to prevent a major world war far better than a heavy division deployed on to the continent.
However, one has to face the stark reality that our already embarrassingly small frigate force, as mentioned by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, is going to shrink still further over the short to medium term. When will the next five Type 26 frigates be ordered—we have been waiting for ages for them to be ordered—and are we speeding up the delivery programme? The present programme is glacially slow and dramatically adding to the cost.
I refer the House to my interests, as laid out in the register, and congratulate my noble friend Lord Godson—he is my friend—on his thoughtful maiden speech. I associate myself with the tributes to Frank Judd. We sat together on the Justice Committee; I am deaf in one ear and he was deaf in both; that is probably why we got on so well. I enjoyed sharing a birthday with him. May his memory be for a blessing.
On page 63, the very welcome review states:
“We will not hesitate to stand up for our values and our interests where they are threatened, or when China acts in breach of existing agreements.”
Before the ink has had time to dry on page 63, our resolve is being tested: when colleagues in this House and the other place are placed on a sanctions list by China, our values and interests are indeed being threatened. I would be very interested to learn from my noble friend the Minister what “not hesitating to stand up for our values” means in practical terms. The Chinese Communist Party’s genocidal policies towards their own citizens—the Uighurs in Xinjiang—are appalling, and, as I have stated over and over again, wringing our hands helps no one, least of all those suffering day after day.
While on the subject of wringing our hands, on
“We will partner with the African Union on climate and biodiversity, global health security, free trade, crisis management, conflict prevention and mediation, the Women, Peace and Security agenda, and promoting good governance and human rights.”
This is a fine list, but if we talk about good governance and human rights, we should lead by example.
I am, however, sure that my noble friend the Minister will be hearing from the co-chairman of the newly established all-party war crimes group, led by the noble Lord, Lord Mendelsohn, and the right honourable Andrew Mitchell MP, which was set up specifically to remove this stain on Rwanda-UK relations.
The review rightly confirms that our interests and values are closely aligned, talking of
“a world in which democratic societies flourish and fundamental human rights are protected”.
In the light of these fine words, will my noble friend the Minister confirm that the UK will not attend Durban IV? As the right honourable Member for Chipping Barnet, Theresa Villiers, said in the other place, it is the anniversary of the 2001 UN conference against racism, which degenerated into hatred, anti-Semitism and disproportionate criticism of Israel.
The review rightly argues that poor governance and disorder are likely to increase the space for terrorists and extremist groups to operate in the Middle East. The report, however, says little about the intentional and malign efforts of the Iranian Government to sow disorder, enrich uranium, destabilise Governments and sponsor extremists and terrorists throughout the region. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ terrorist proxy Hezbollah continues to hold the people of Lebanon hostage as their country faces economic collapse. The IRGC is menacing the Kingdom of Bahrain through arms exports to pro-Iranian militias and is prolonging the tragic war in Yemen through support for the Houthi rebels, who are directly attacking Saudi Arabia.
Does my noble friend the Minister agree with me, therefore, that the UK has an opportunity to play a significant role: to take a lead and bring about a more resilient Middle East by proscribing and therefore marginalising the Iranian revolutionary guard corps?
My Lords, parts of this integrated review read more like a party manifesto than a closely argued analysis of threats and capabilities. We learn a lot about the Prime Minister’s ambitious visions for the future but much less about how they are to be achieved.
Some sections invite satirical comment. Page 64 tells us:
“The UK is the nearest neighbour to the Arctic region.”
Like others, I was struck by the many contradictions and inconsistencies in the document. It proclaims that Britain is a “soft power superpower” which benefits from the global reputation of the BBC, our world-class universities and the quality of our cultural life. It also underlines and emphasises the importance of integrating domestic and external policies. In domestic politics, however, Ministers are hostile to the BBC and dismiss and condemn university teachers, artists and writers as the core of the despised metropolitan liberal elite. Observers in other countries notice these attacks on such national assets, even if the Prime Minister’s vision is too short-sighted to recognise them.
There is a fundamental contradiction between the assertion of sovereignty as a core value and the representation of the UK as a champion of multilateralism, global order, human rights and international law. The Chinese are right to say that criticism of their treatment of the Uighurs is an invasion of their sovereignty. We defend global values against Chinese sovereignty. The British Empire could both assert its full sovereignty and impose its views on others, but we no longer have an empire and we cannot pretend to be world-leading in all the fields that the Prime Minister fondly imagines that we can. He should talk more about partnership and less about leadership.
The identification of Russia as the most direct threat to British security is undermined by the priority given to the Indo-Pacific. Almost the only reference to the European Union—as has been remarked—states that the UK will
“find new ways of working with it on shared challenges” but it does not tell us what those new ways might be. Later, it says:
“We will also look for ways to work more closely with European partners, including France and Germany.”
Ministers should not have to look very far: the UK has had a bilateral defence partnership with France since 1998, although Conservative Ministers have done their best not to tell Parliament about it since 2010. Indeed, one Defence Secretary told me directly that he accepted close co-operation with France provided that Parliament knew as little about it as possible.
The claim that the UK will become the European power with the strongest presence in the Indo-Pacific is also an exaggeration: the French are there already with territories, citizens, armed forces and diplomats. In winding up, therefore, will the Minister commit the Government to informing Parliament about the current state of the Franco-British defence partnership and plans for its future development? A review that devotes so much more attention to relations with India than with our nearest continental neighbour—Europe’s other military and global power—is not an entirely serious document.
My Lords, the integrated review is both comprehensive and strategic in its foreign policy intentions. The emphasis on recognising the strengths of our allies, and modestly aiming to lead where the UK is best placed to do so, is welcome.
That said, however, there are many potential contradictions and many issues to resolve before the strategy can begin to be implemented and we can begin to know what global Britain will actually look like in years to come. There are difficult issues, not least of which is the fact that we should perhaps be a little careful of being welcomed with open arms by all those nations with which we now seek much closer relations.
The Indo-Pacific pivot is predominantly about economic and security aspects. We all know, however, that democratic nations prosper better than autocratic ones in the longer term, so if economic growth is to be achieved in the Indo-Pacific region it has to be under- pinned by good governance, adherence to the rule of law and common international standards.
What might be the threats to these liberal democratic values, and how might they be limited? Clearly China and its foreign policies and actions represent a major challenge within the Indo-Pacific area. The PRC’s tactics for gaining influence are many and varied, including the belt and road initiative—seen at its most aggressive in the purchase of the Sri Lankan Hambantota deep-harbour seaport, now owned by the PRC—illegal actions in Hong Kong and Taiwan and military threats in the South China Sea.
However, there is as yet no coherent democratic alternative to combat these aggressive developments, and other nations in the region, such as Laos and North Korea, do not even begin to nod towards democratic norms. The UK will need to encourage and establish—urgently, I think—new forums for co-operation, the opportunities for which may well arise during the UK’s leadership of the G7 and the COP 26 meetings this year. A collective of south and east Asian countries, the US, the UK and other European states should agree on measures to strengthen sustainable rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific area, and, in the very near future, provide details of any plans for such informal or formal forums and with which allies they are to be formed.
Meanwhile, the UK should insist that the democratic nations in the region continue to demonstrate their own democratic credentials, such as press freedom, protection of minorities and upholding civil liberties, and the UK should itself closely follow a dual approach, involving equal measures of cautious collaboration with, and severe criticism of, the PRC.
My Lords, this has been an interesting and important debate. I just want to make a straightforward point on what appears in section IV of the review, “Strategic Framework”.
Under “Sustaining strategic advantage through science and technology”, the review refers to
“The rapid pace of change in science and technology” that is
“transforming many aspects of our lives, fundamentally reshaping our economy and our society, and unlocking previously inconceivable improvements in global health, well-being and prosperity.”
So far, so good; soft power is of crucial importance in maintaining our security. However, it then goes on to refer to “systematic competition” between states and claims, somewhat tautologically, that
“countries which establish a leading role in critical and emerging technologies will be at the forefront of global leadership.”
The emphasis on the importance of science, and health in particular, is correct. We know this from the acknowledged success of developing and delivering the Covid-19 vaccine programme, which is so important in our return to anything like a normal life. However, the emphasis on competition in this context is simply wrong. Again, we know this from the vaccine programme, where co-operation between actors, public and private, from many different parts of the world, has been crucial to its success. It is a truly international effort, where co-operation, not competition, has been the foundation.
Unfortunately, this is part and parcel of the Prime Minister’s global Britain rhetoric—just sound and wind, with no substance. When he attributed the vaccine’s success to capitalism and greed, he was wrong. The idea that private ingenuity and naked competition produced the vaccines is a complete fantasy. The infrastructure that produced Covid-19 vaccines was nurtured in publicly funded universities, public institutes and heavily subsidised private labs.
The review itself demonstrates this lack of understanding of how science works. It claims that the UK is already a science and technology power, with references to
“the UK’s successful S&T base.”
It then fails to explore the basis for that success in any detail, because to do so would expose the Government’s mis-steps in this field.
A clear example of this is the Government’s wishful thinking in the box headed “Attracting global talent to the UK”. Having the right ambitions, appointing an office for talent, and relying on a yet-to-be-revealed, points-based immigration system are not enough, in practice, to provide the reassurance that top talent requires. It is not just about Brexit, but that hardly helped.
The Government also fail to provide the money to back up their claims. Having lofty ambitions is of nothing when insufficient resources are provided for our leading research institutions. The recovery from Covid will need research, for example on the mental health effects, in order to offer the better treatments and services that are needed.
In his introduction, the Minister acknowledged the importance of co-operation in the field of science. This is particularly important when it comes to health research. Co-operation is the way forward, not competition.
My Lords, this review marks a step forward in defining the UK’s role in the world against the background of geopolitical shifts. It provides a comprehensive and nuanced framework for developing our road map and increasing our influence as a force for good.
The proposed, so-called Indo-Pacific tilt will inevitably give prominence to trade, defence and security, but to be effective it has to be all-embracing. It should include greater involvement in the region, through actions on climate change, promotion of common values and the rules-based international order, and initiatives, through cultural and educational institutions, to deepen understanding of countries in the region, particularly India, given its strategic salience in the region. While the relationship with India is historic, the time has come to recalibrate the relationship. This relationship should not be seen through an archaic lens but developed through greater knowledge sharing and brought into sync with contemporary realities.
Advancement of free trade, which is seen as the centrepiece of global Britain, will require the mobilisation of all our capabilities, particularly in science and technology, as fully recognised in the review, and all our soft power assets. There is no doubt that we possess a unique set of capabilities and soft power assets, but these need to be mobilised and adapted for the demands and opportunities of our modern world. Our approach has to be based on collaboration and mutuality. Again, the review recognises this, but this will have to be made a reality by ensuring that sufficient resources and capabilities are available in our institutions and government departments. We need to use all our soft power tools with skill and make creative use of new technologies and talent, if our role in the world as a force for good, as envisaged in this review, is to be realised.
We must not undervalue institutions such as the British Council, the BBC and other cultural assets. What they bring to the table should be an integral part of the thinking in developing our strategy and approach. Over the years, these institutions have helped to build trust in the UK. Currently, we are in the lead as far as soft power is concerned, but we retain only a slim lead. France, Germany, China, South Korea and Russia are now spending increasingly more on the promotion of their soft power. We ignore that at our peril.
The other network whose full potential is not sufficiently recognised in this review is the Commonwealth, which provides an effective forum for promoting common values and the flow of trade. To have credible moral authority to espouse the values that underpin liberal democracies, and to be an effective convener, the UK’s reputational resilience at home and abroad is vital to our international influence. Actions must speak louder than words. The review recognises that, in an interconnected, complex and multipolar world, prosperity and security at home is dependent on how we operate on the world stage. The Government’s commitment to restore 0.7% of GNI, and making clear that being a leading donor is central to their values agenda, is a signal in the right direction, but again we need an indication of when this will happen.
Post Brexit, we have started the process of developing a more positive narrative about our place and role in the world. This will require, as many have said this afternoon, setting our priorities, leading by example, shifting the mindset in many of our institutions, having humility in our approach, developing new capabilities and deepening our understanding and knowledge of the changing world—and not ignoring Europe. It will, therefore, be helpful to hear from the Minister what steps will be taken to set priorities, build on our currents strengths and develop new capabilities within government departments and other valuable institutions, which the realisation of this review will require.
My Lords, the decision to produce an integrated review of foreign policy, defence, security and international development was brave, and it is to be welcomed. The UK’s role in the world must encompass all these areas, along with trade and international economic policies. They require a strategic framework under which they can operate in a seamless way without inconsistencies and clashes of objectives.
Unfortunately, the report does not match up to its ambitions and, therefore, should not be seen as more than a work in progress. It requires more refinement as well as more detail about how it can be resourced, particularly in areas such as cybersecurity in a context of rapid technological change. To implement its aim, it will also require sophisticated cross-departmental collaboration. Before it can be deemed to be a proper strategy, a rigorous review about what its priorities are is needed. There is a long list of aims, without assessment of how much importance should be attached to them. The danger of the something-for-everyone approach is that it can lead to a nothing-for-anyone outcome. Further detailed is also needed on the means as well as the ends, and I hope that this will include working with European countries that share our values and are our near neighbours.
Let me move from these general points to two areas where the report either disappoints or is misguided. They are development aid and the ratcheting up of our nuclear capability.
The decision to make a binding commitment in law to spend 0.7% of GNI on development aid reflected our values in wishing to help millions of people around the world out of poverty, as well as our interests to promote economic growth and technological advances in developing countries. This commitment should be seen as a defining element in what it means to be a global leader. It does not come through in the integrated review. Development gets short shrift. Will the Minister tell the House how the Government can drop the legal commitment to 0.7% without parliamentary agreement to amend the law? It simply will not do to reply that it all depends on the fiscal situation and what that allows. The Government will be breaking a law enacted quite recently.
There are many examples of aid programmes that will be decimated by deprioritising development as in the review. Let me just mention a couple. First, over the years, Voluntary Service Overseas has built for the UK a worldwide reputation on the use of volunteers in development aid. If the cuts the Government are threatening are imposed, VSO will have to withdraw from many countries in which it operates.
Secondly, in Yemen, the war has led to a humanitarian disaster in which millions of children are suffering from malnutrition and hundreds of thousands of people face famine. There is the strongest possible need to increase substantially our aid to Yemen, not to cut it by half. Can the Minister indicate why the Government are doing this? Can she at the same time explain how they are integrating continuing support for the Saudi-led coalition in this war with a diplomatic role in the UN in brokering peace and providing aid to the civilian population? That does not look like integration to me.
My final questions relate to the proposal to increase greatly the number of warheads in our nuclear stockpile. Since our financial position is being cited as reason for cutting our aid, how can it allow massive expenditure to increase our nuclear capability? Does the Minister also agree that the timing could hardly be more unfortunate? Later this year, the review conference on the nuclear non-proliferation treaty will take place. What will other countries participating make of the UK’s policies on disarmament—which presumably we are still pressing for—when we are rearming and not disarming? It makes a mockery of any claim to political or global leadership in this area.
My Lords, I noted the carefully crafted messaging in the integrated review with regard to China. I had it in mind to offer a contribution today that addressed the challenges and opportunities, strategic and otherwise, with that state. However, for reasons that have been well rehearsed in this session, I should delay further consideration to the autumn. Suffice it to say at this stage that I believe the review struck an apt approach.
I do not automatically espouse the theory that the reduction in development aid funds necessarily presents a doomsday scenario. What is required more than anything is a combination of realism and innovation: a new-found approach incorporating zero tariffs and the opportunity to trade with the developed world to the benefit of all; and a phased adjustment in current tax and payments to source, rather than for ever having taxes paid by a corporation where they are tax-resident is worthy of consideration. A Cross-Bench debate next week will provide an opportunity to expand on that theme.
Many noble Lords have rightly referred to science and technology. It is my pleasure therefore to offer the Minister some potential low-hanging fruit. This would normally have been the gift of the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, but he has focused our minds elsewhere, so I shall run with the baton.
The Government are not eligible to be a party to the International Science and Technology Center—ISTC—headquartered in Kazakhstan, due to the circumstances of Brexit. Association, however, would bring the benefit of having an oven-ready partner in the arena of non-proliferation in chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats, in addition to being a useful mechanism to implement the Government’s defence and security policies overseas. Its DG can add to the storyboard; renewed association would enable the UK to be a party to an existing international organisation for the exercise of non-proliferation and against world hybrid threats. The ISTC had several MoD projects that were being implemented and I understand that funds are still on account.
Countering state nuclear and security threats, in addition to having access to over 100 countries’ facilities, including a worldwide database of institutes and scientists, with their expertise, would be a useful asset to the United Kingdom. It would include access to antimicrobial resistance and disease surveillance, and other endemic medical and related threats, nuclear forensics, biosecurity experience and a useful mechanism to further R&D and S&T co-operation. Multilateral agreements, at the diplomatic level, are in phase for member countries that, when translated, would mean it not being necessary to negotiate separate bilateral agreements when wishing to implement a project in any country. The alternative would be to fund projects that meet our international non-proliferation and security objectives on a case-by-case basis.
The noble Lords, Lord Hannan, Lord Berkeley and Lord Desai, have withdrawn, so I call the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria.
My Lords, the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy is an excellent document that covers all aspects of the UK’s place in the world. It went beyond the parameters of a traditional review, which is wonderful news. I welcome my friend—and I will call him my friend—the noble Lord, Lord Godson. It was wonderful to hear his maiden speech, but it is so sad about the noble Lord, Lord Judd, whom we will miss so much. He would definitely have been speaking in this debate.
The review covers geopolitical and economic shifts in particular, China and the challenges of climate change, health risks, illicit finance, serious and organised crime and terrorism, and it requires collective action, so it is spot on. Its emphasis on science and technology is fantastic. It talks about the US being our most important bilateral relationship, and the Five Eyes, to which we are glad to belong. It talks about Europe and says:
“The UK in the world: a European country with global interests”.
It says that we have a unique position among European countries. I always say this: we may have left the European Union, but we will never leave Europe. It is still our largest trading partner by far, accounting for 45% of our trade.
On the tilt to the Indo-Pacific, I am so glad that we are using that term, because we used to use “Asia-Pacific”. Speaking as a person of Indian origin, “Indo-Pacific” is the right term from India’s point of view. We are talking about the importance of that region, which includes countries such as India. The whole Commonwealth makes up less than 10% of our trade, but look at India: bilateral trade with India is worth £24 billion; with Canada, about £20 billion; with Australia, about £20 billion; and yet trade with China is worth £100 billion. The CPTPP, if we joined it, would be worth £110 billion.
The Prime Minister, in going to India, was going to announce an enhanced trade partnership to take trade with India up to £100 billion by 2030 and to make more of the Commonwealth. The Indian-origin people who live in the UK are the living bridge of 1.5 million, which the report talks about. When it comes to India, we need to have a strategic relationship. It is not just about trade and investment, it is about defence and security. India is a member of the Quad with the US, Australia and Japan. We need to be in those sorts of strategic defence relationships with countries such as India. Climate change, health, migration and mobility, education and science and technology are important issues.
Soon India is going to allow British universities to open there. Our high commission and embassy network around the world is very strong. We have one of the best networks in the world. It is a great element of our power. Universities are not specifically mentioned enough in the report, yet our universities are one of our strongest elements of soft power.
The report talks about science and technology. As president of the CBI, one of my priorities is to get businesses and universities working closely together, particularly with regard to science and technology, research and development and innovation. There is no better example than the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine, a collaboration between a Swedish-British company, Oxford University and AZ, headquartered in Cambridge, in collaboration with the Serum Institute of India, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world.
I am proud to be an honorary group captain in 601 Squadron of the RAF. It is good to see that the new Space Command, which will be within the RAF, has been announced. I think space will be a hugely important aspect in future and I am glad that it is covered in detail in the review. On the other hand, I am concerned that the Army is going to be cut. We need boots on the ground. There has to be a critical mass. Do the Government agree? I also see that diversity and inclusion are included, which is very important.
To conclude, we are at the top table of the world: NATO and the G7. This is a watershed year as we are hosting the G7 and COP 26, a great opportunity for the country. We are 1% of the world’s population and the second largest recipient of inward investment in the world.
Lastly, the report clearly shows that we have the best combination of hard and soft power of, I think, any country in the world.
My Lords, I welcome the integrated review and its ambitious vision to make the UK a stronger, safer and more prosperous country. The UK plays a role on the global stage, and I am glad to see that the Government will make tackling climate change and biodiversity loss their number one international priority. As we prepare to host COP 26 in November, that is very important as the climate crisis is one of the biggest threats to international security and stability.
This week, the Government announced that they will put into law the world’s most ambitious climate change target: to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. That is commendable, but what plans do they have to make those targets a reality? This year, we have seen the creation of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, which has integrated diplomacy and development, and we have signed an increasing number of trade agreements. As someone who is actively involved in promoting trade in overseas countries, I can already see the benefits of this.
Greater trade and investment and more openness with other countries will reap many mutual benefits and help to drive prosperity. With that prosperity comes growth that leads to new innovations in technology that will protect people and the planet. Will the Minister tell the House when the Government intend to restore the aid budget to 0.7%, so that we can properly help to drive prosperity across the world?
The UK has unique soft power, which has been incredibly important in building relationships and domestic ties abroad as well as supporting the economy. I have a close connection with, and am a freeman of, the City of London. I know that the City is widely respected and recognised for supporting significant global trade and investment.
We very much appreciate the soft power exercised by the BBC and the British Council. When I travel abroad, I am told that the BBC provides reliable news. In my student days, I stayed for two years in a British Council residence. I am a great supporter of its work, which I have seen in person when I have gone abroad. The British Council helps to promote common values, understanding and knowledge so that different communities can live in harmony with each other.
As well as soft power, the UK has an impressive security and defence framework, which is perhaps one of our greatest strengths. I am very interested in the well-being of our Armed Forces, and I welcome the increase in defence spending to 2.2% of our GDP, which is the biggest increase in defence spending since the end of the Cold War and makes us the second-highest defence spender in NATO.
My Lords, the Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, rightly says that the UK’s ambition should be to emerge as “a force for good”, while in his introduction to the integrated review, the Prime Minister says that
“liberal democracy and free markets remain the best model for the social and economic advancement of humankind.”
In drawing attention to the all-party groups of which I am an officer and to the current inquiry of the International Relations and Defence Select Committee, on which I serve, I want to drill down into the review’s objective that we will tilt towards the insufficiently defined Indo-Pacific and how we will constrain the Chinese Communist Party.
The integrated review recognises China’s increasing assertiveness as
“the most significant geopolitical factor of the 2020s” and
“the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security.”
It describes China as a “systemic competitor” and says the UK
“is likely to remain a priority target for such threats”,
including “cyber-attacks, disinformation and proxies.”
Yet, conspicuously, the review does not even mention Taiwan, which recently recorded its largest CCP air incursion yet. Why not? Combined with Russia’s opportunistic sabre-rattling against Ukraine, these challenges by autocracies pose a serious threat to international order. The Foreign Secretary has described the CCP’s industrial scale violations against the Uighurs and we call out China’s violations, including CCP sanctions on parliamentarians exercising their duties and BBC journalists committed to truth telling. We say we will stand up for them and for our values but continue to conduct and increase business.
I ask the Minister directly: is it licit for a signatory to the convention on the crime of genocide to do business as usual with a state credibly accused of genocide? Given what we know about Xinjiang’s concentration camps and slave labour, what changes are we making to our supply chains? What are we doing to make the UK less dependent on China, especially in strategic sectors?
Recent reports by Jo Johnson and Civitas warn of infiltration of UK higher education, intellectual property theft and worse. In its report Inadvertently Arming China?, Civitas says that more than half of the 24 Russell Group universities have worrying links with Chinese military-based institutions, including agencies involved in developing weapons of mass destruction. It says the UK’s response is
“a picture of strategic incoherence.”
We need to do better than that.
The threat to our way of life is symbolised by the treatment of Dr Li Wenliang after he tried to warn the world about Covid and the CCP’s imprisonment of a courageous young lawyer and citizen journalist, Zhang Zhan, tortured for going to Wuhan to expose the truth. It is symbolised by the jailing of Hong Kong’s democrats and the genocide of Uighurs.
In response, the review rightly emphasises and urges a multilateral response and for the UK to aim to be:
“the European partner with the broadest and most integrated presence”.
What can the Minister tell us of the proposed D10 alliance of democracies and President Biden’s suggested summit of democracies? What would the UK’s role be? Might potential allies like Singapore and Vietnam be excluded by too-narrow definitions? Strengthening ties with established Asian democracies, such as Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, and encouraging emerging democracies, such as Indonesia and Malaysia, and enhancing alliances with long-standing friends such as Singapore and India, will be key.
We must stand with those fighting tyranny in Burma and Hong Kong, and those like Australia who are sanctioned for speaking out. Note that China’s threat that Five Eyes countries should be careful lest their eyes be poked blind—their words—has been followed by New Zealand’s decision to leave Five Eyes. To achieve the review’s laudable aims, we must strengthen our alliances, stand with our friends and see how the frequently suborned multilateral architecture, especially at the United Nations, can be salvaged.
My Lords, I am thankful that we can have this crucial debate today and I declare my interests in the register. For some time, it has been clear that we are in the midst of an epochal shift, in which the old certainties of the post-war era are being eroded. In their place come times that are much more volatile and unpredictable, and in which our historical approaches may need to be adapted. I welcome the review and the Government’s determination to give birth to a more agile, inclusive and responsive approach to our national security that recognises new threats and rivalries, and the innovation needed to address them.
I want to focus my remarks on the issue of resilience and the role we can all play to help mitigate some of the shocks on the horizon. There will continue to be shocks, as the review correctly highlights, whether climate-related, a major hack or a drone attack on a major city or installation, or indeed another pandemic—manmade or zoonotic. Covid-19 has shown that it does not require a nuclear arsenal or an army, cyber or non-cyber, to effectively shut down large parts of the British economy and system; you just have to fill our hospitals with patients.
What is being done to tackle situations that, without much initial bloodshed, could bring our economy and society to its knees, through asynchronous attacks? How do we not just build resilience in our major institutions, with the usual contingency plans, resources and responses, but go further to make the structure of our government, society and services nearly pandemic, drone or weather-proof? It seems that a lot of this has to be about how we protect the internet from, for example, future quantum-based attacks, and how we use it in future to go beyond Zoom and video calling to enable our economy and services to function in a more decentralised away. It is also to do with how communities can cope if supply chains are broken or the internet and power supplies are taken down. What guidance will the Government give to civil servants, leaders and the public on how to prepare for such eventualities?
How can innovation and the private sector play a role, enabling more people like Kate Bingham to help reshape our services with the connections and insights they might have to go beyond any groupthink that might linger? Indeed, in healthcare the response so far is admirable, and we must praise those front-line workers who have sacrificed so much—including those in my own extended family here in Britain—to keep us safe. However, tough questions need to be asked about how resilient the NHS and healthcare is in this nation. In the initial wave of Covid, it looks like nearly one-third of patients caught it in hospital. Waiting lists have grown, in some cases to over a year, and death rates have increased for non-Covid-related causes, which may be due to people not accessing or being asked to access diagnosis and treatment.
Will a resilient NHS look to move more diagnosis, scanning and treatment away from hospitals and into the high street and community or even, using the latest technology, into our own homes? Will we continue to rely on a large hospital-based system that creates an easy target for enemies, human or non-human in nature, to bring us down? Will we consider creating perpetual trials to accelerate vaccine and drug development and to accelerate the adoption of new devices ahead of being hit by sudden and chronic health-related challenges, where the system would be overwhelmed and might struggle to respond from a standing start?
What about education or business? How can we ensure those who cannot work online are able to continue to operate on-site in safe ways in future pandemics? Should we encourage people to have both digital and physical work skills, so they can still have a job even if their digital or physical work environment is compromised? What does a resilient foreign policy look like?
Many other areas like these need looking at further. I believe that, in future, the winners may not just be those who are big or well-armed, or who have soft power, but simply those who can survive by being resilient enough to fight another day.
My Lords, anyone who follows developing countries will long remember Frank Judd for his advocacy of poverty reduction and sustainable development. Here, we miss him right now for his eloquence and the determination he would have brought to this debate.
Like the noble Lords, Lord Wei and Lord Bilimoria, I am generally impressed with the spirit of the review and the direction of travel, and even by the impatience with which the Government have raised their flags overseas. I do not go with buzzwords like global Britain, but I welcome their recommitment to the international and the multilateral. I am pleased that the FCDO wants to be a force for good—soft power is here to stay—although without enough visas. There is also a determination to deal with online harms, sexual violence and a range of human rights violations, and we see new approaches to science and technology, with phrases such as “building national resilience”. Some of these are either brave promises, far ahead of reality, or they are things the Government ought to be doing anyway.
All this laundry list, as the noble Lord, Lord Ricketts, dubs it, comes at a more positive time, when the new US leader, Joe Biden, is back with similar aspirations, scrubbing out policies left behind by his predecessor. Climate change, Covid and SDGs are all getting proper attention. Of course, I welcome the recommitment to aid and the sustainable development goals, but the cuts are damaging and unnecessary, and the departmental merger blurs the line further between aid, defence and diplomacy. The Government have ignored their own aid target and the Minister will, I hope, repeat the assurance that the legally binding 0.7% target will return next year. The Minister was rightly besieged with questions about this this morning and I am sure he will look forward to the debate brought by the noble Lord, Lord Alton, on this next week.
On the merger, I focus briefly on the Government’s intention to tighten up the cross-government Conflict, Stability and Security Fund. Was the merger really necessary, if we already had joined-up arrangements for that fund? The FCDO claims that the fund will receive £874 million for 2021-22, but Bond, on behalf of aid agencies, says that the fund has been cut by £363 million and that aid to conflict-affected states could be cut by between 50% and 90%. Could the Minister please confirm these figures? For states such as South Sudan and Yemen, a cut on that scale would be devastating. Could the Government not publish a breakdown of aid cuts by country and sector, so that we can all speak from the same statistics in future?
We are seeing the relaunch of Britain as a trading nation, with rollovers and FDAs signed almost every week. The question arises whether the new official enthusiasm for human rights is being properly translated into trade deals. The answer is that there is a formula of words in the explanatory memorandums and in some of these agreements, but we have yet to see consequent actions anywhere. On China, of course, we have a difficult and at times impenetrable way between sanctions on human rights and the benefits of normal diplomatic and trade relations. Meanwhile, what is happening to the Foreign Office post Brexit? Is it becoming submerged in trade and aid? The letters F and O surely need more attention.
Can we really be global without Europe? Chatham House puts it quite bluntly: the Government’s
“longer-term ambitions for relations with the EU are notably thin”.
We will be living under the shelter of the US again, and our policy towards Ukraine will follow NATO rather than EU initiatives. We may see reconciliation with Iran, but we must, as many have argued this afternoon, continue to work closely with our European neighbours on all these issues, even if we have—blindly, in my view—shut ourselves out of their meeting room.
My Lords, I start by declaring my interest both as a member of the Army Reserve and, with specific relevance to this debate, chairman of the Reserve Forces 2030 review. It is a pleasure to be able to contribute to this timely debate and, in particular, to be able to follow the thoughtful contribution from noble Earl, Lord Sandwich, much of which I agreed with.
The announcement of the integrated review has been long anticipated, but from a defence perspective it is worth highlighting that the scene was set last September with the publication of the integrated operating concept, the first in a series of three announcements, with the integrated review the second and culminating most recently in the Command Paper. Taken together, these represent in grand strategic terms the ends, ways and means for defence over the next decade. Together, they set out a new approach as to how we will use our Armed Forces in an era of persistent competition and the rapidly changing nature of warfare. Representing the most significant evolution of UK military thought in several generations, it will lead to a fundamental transformation not only of the UK military, but how we use it.
The integrated operating concept articulates a clear distinction between operating and war-fighting, and reasons that, while ultimately we need a contingent capability for our military to defend the nation and fight a war, our military should also be out and about operating, helping to build alliances and responding to crises as opposed to simply training as a contingent force. The integrated review builds on this approach and makes clear that we must be prepared to be enduring in our commitment and forward deploy our Armed Forces. There is no better example of this being put into action than the recent forward deployment of both HMS “Trent” to be based in Gibraltar and HMS “Montrose” to Bahrain.
These deployments, along with similar commitments from both the Army and Navy, are not just symbolic. During my time as a Defence Minister, the one consistent message that I received from our partners across the globe was that, while the training and support that we offered were viewed as some of the best in the world, we would be there one minute and gone the next. This is why this move to persistent engagement will be central to defence’s ability to contribution to the global Britain agenda.
Shortly, the carrier strike group led by HMS “Queen Elizabeth” will undertake our most ambitious deployment for two decades, encompassing the Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and east Asia. If the vision the integrated review provides is that the security of our nation is where defence meets prosperity meets global influence, then this deployment, and those that will follow, will be flagship events for defence’s contribution to global Britain.
Despite this sequence of announcements, there is still one aspect of the “means” piece of the jig-saw missing, the yet to be published Reserve Forces 2030 review, and it is on this that I would like to focus my remaining comments. The review is important, as it will address many of the concerns expressed by noble Lords about the size of the regular Armed Forces. Building on the success of the Future Reserves 2020 review, which focused on growth and investment in the single service reserves, which has seen the size of the reserve grow over the last 10 years, the terms of reference for the latest review were different.
Rather than looking down and in at the use of reserves by single services, we were tasked with looking up and out. At its heart, the review is about people and skills and how defence, industry, government and wider society can share them. This means looking at how the Reserve Forces can provide capability across government departments, deliver networks into industry and academia and reinforce national resilience and homeland security, as well as renewing and strengthening the link with society in general.
The national experience of the Covid pandemic has demonstrated in no uncertain terms how the nation needs to pull together in times of crisis and how government, Parliament, state institutions, industry and the general public rely on each other. The vision the review describes is of empowered Reserve Forces—
We may have lost the end of the noble Lord’s remarks. I call the next speaker, the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham.
My Lords, I am delighted to be able to speak in this debate and, in particular, grateful to the usual channels and the Ministers.
May I move down slightly? The reason I was trying to speak from there was because it is quite useful to be able to see the Minister, and I quite like the idea that the Minister is able to see me. The last two times I tried to speak in the Chamber, because I am so small, where I have been standing I could not be seen. The Table now has five screens and a mobile phone on it. Obviously, if I was standing where I was not audible that is also not desirable. It merely highlights the problem that I want to start with—other than thanking the Ministers—because I want to raise the issue of the hybrid Parliament very briefly.
I thank the Ministers for being willing to have today’s debate. What was happening, before half-term, was whole series of very short statements. In particular, the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, pointed out that there were a whole set of very short debates in which we got a minute to speak. So a five-hour debate is very welcome. However, even a five-hour debate meant a time limit of four minutes for Back-Bench speakers. That would be fine, except the rules about presence in the Chamber mean that several noble Lords had signed up to speak and found they were scratched because they had not worked out how to be in the Chamber when there were no seats for them. This debate is going to finish well within the five hours, but we lost 10 people who would have been speaking. It is regrettable that the current situation means that we are not able to debate quite as we would like.
We are in a situation where we have the integrated review and, as the noble Lord, Lord Lancaster, has just pointed out, a whole suite of other defence-related documents that are coming forward. This means that we have the opportunity to discuss a range of issues on more than one occasion.
The main focus of today is intended to be the integrated security, defence and foreign policy review, also including development aid—multiple, different topics, which, as several noble Lords have already pointed out, is not particularly integrated. It is a document that covers a huge range of topics, all very interesting, not necessarily integrated and scarcely strategic. It is noticeable that the former Minister, the noble Baroness, Lady Anelay of St Johns, who currently chairs the International Relations and Defence Committee, on which I had the pleasure of sitting until recently, pointed out some of the defects in this report.
Those were very similar to the defects in the Government’s policy on Africa, which is allegedly a strategy but in fact a whole set of disparate issues. That is very much a problem with the so-called integrated review. It talks a great deal about ambitions; it raises, slightly heuristically, as the noble Lord, Lord Kerr of Kinlochard, pointed out, the Prime Minister’s ambitions. It flags up some of the Government’s ambitions on defence, diplomacy and development, but it does not allow us to go into sufficient deal. There are lots of ambitions, but do the Government really know how they are going to deliver on those ambitions?
We had a statement on defence expenditure, as the noble Lord, Lord West of Spithead, pointed out: a welcome uplift, but for the next four years. Anyone who knows anything about defence procurement knows that four years is not very long for procurement. We have had calls to know when the frigates are going to appear. That is likely to be, as we have already heard, the late 2020s. So an uplift in defence expenditure for four years was welcome, but, as the noble Lord, Lord Hannay, pointed out, it is, to an extent, putting the cart before the horse, because it did not enable us to understand what defence commitments needed to be. In particular, when we heard about an increase in defence expenditure, nobody had any inkling whatsoever that the Government were suddenly going to pull a nuclear rabbit out of a hat and announce that they were going to raise the number of nuclear warheads.
Almost nobody in this debate has spoken in favour of raising the number of nuclear warheads. Only the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, suggested that this is desirable. He suggested that for us to have a deterrent, it needed to be credible, and that we perhaps need more warheads. But the vast majority of opinion in this debate has been quite different. It has reflected the view of the noble Lord, Lord McDonald of Salford, that there is a very real danger that we will potentially be in breach of international law and our own commitments under the non-proliferation treaty if the Government think of raising the number of nuclear warheads. So I ask the Minister what assessment she, the Secretary of State and anybody in the Ministry of Defence has given to our commitments under the NPT, and whether increasing the number of nuclear warheads is seen to be in breach of Article VI or any other aspect of the NPT.
When I asked the noble Baroness the Leader of the House a similar question when the announcement on nuclear weapons was made, she said that there was no issue in terms of our international obligations. Is that true legally? Beyond that, have the Government thought about what the ramifications are politically? One of the people who spoke most eloquently at the time of the announcement was Tobias Ellwood, chair of the Defence Committee in the other place. He pointed out that if this Government feel that the security conditions are so dangerous and that chemical and biological weapons somehow necessitate a situation where the United Kingdom needs to increase its nuclear capability, why is that not true for China or Russia? Why is it not true for Iran, which may wish to have nuclear weapons? What messages do the Government think the nuclear policy sends?
I think the Minister understands that it is very difficult for the Government to get anything through this House when the view across the Chamber is almost unanimous. She has done sterling service to your Lordships and, I hope, to decision-making on the overseas operations Bill by taking matters such as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity back to the Ministry of Defence and the other place, following a sense that we were united. There is a very similar view on nuclear, so please could she take that message back?
Beyond nuclear, money clearly matters in the context of development as well. Many noble Lords have focused on that, including my noble friends Lord Purvis of Tweed, Lord Bruce of Bennachie and Lady Northover, and they are right. There are serious moral issues. If we want to be global Britain and say that we wish to export our values, some of that is surely about what we do with our soft power. Saying that we are going to decimate our bilateral aid, particularly to a country such as Yemen, is completely unacceptable. Have the Government given any thought to the messages they are sending by saying that they will increase defence expenditure—which I welcome as our defence spokesperson—but are cutting aid at the same time? What message do the Government think that sends? Could the Minister tell us when she believes that the 0.5% will go back to 0.7%? I realise that this might be a little contentious within the governing party, but some sense that we will move back to 0.7% next year would be extremely welcome.
Beyond development and defence are the questions of diplomacy. As certain noble Lords pointed out, that seems rather lacking. We need to hear more about diplomacy and soft power generally. The Government talk about the BBC World Service but spend the rest of their time denigrating the BBC, so what is the message?
As we have heard from many noble Lords, this review seems in many ways to be disintegrated, not integrated. It seems to send mixed messages—about our soft power and about the threats, particularly how we deal with China. As my noble friend Lord Alton—and I do call him a friend—pointed out, there are questions about genocide and how we deal with a country such as China. This integrated review, like so many government statements, appears to send mixed messages.
Perhaps trade trumps defence and short-termism trumps long-termism and our values; I very much hope that it does not, but I would be grateful if, in her response, the Minister could tell us what values are most important to this Government. And so that we have a sense of strategy, not a laundry list, could she tell us what the Government’s priorities in this review will be?
My Lords, I begin by congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Godson, on his excellent maiden speech, a convention I am also happy to follow. I really do look forward to hearing more of his contributions in these debates, particularly on international matters.
The review is welcome but, for it to be worth the paper it is written on, the Government need to end the contradictions and inconsistencies that have undermined our role on the world stage. In the past year, we have shown ourselves to be a compassionate nation, built on community solidarity and co-operation to bring our country through this pandemic—values that the Government should reflect in their foreign policy.
Being a force for good in the world means always taking a stand against injustices, human rights abuses and suffering, even when it is inconvenient to do so. Here, I also pay tribute to my noble friend Frank Judd. If he had been here today, he would have been making these points most powerfully. He was a man of principle and a good man.
Being a force for good in the world also means putting forward a vision for a more secure and prosperous future, delivering on the UN’s global goals and fulfilling our commitment to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people. I say to the noble Lord, Lord McDonald: a common strategy does not require a big super-department—certainly, a strategy involving diplomacy, defence and development does not need a big department. Rather, it needs a commitment to work together across Whitehall. In respect of our position of shadow Secretary of State for International Development, one of the many reasons the excellent Preet Gill is in the shadow Cabinet is that she will champion, and is championing, the sustainable development goals—something that I think is missing from our Government at the moment.
One of the issues that has been a theme throughout this debate is the disconnect between the Government’s words and their actions. How can we be the champion of human rights while selling arms to Saudi Arabia, which has contributed to creating the world’s most desperate humanitarian situation? How can we aspire to be a world leader in international development while breaking our legal commitment to 0.7%?
To maintain our enormous influence on the world stage and be a moral force for good, we must be consistent in our approach. That means once again becoming a champion of the rule of law. The UN is almost alone in its popularity as a global institution—this is based on its track record of promising and providing stability and progress. As the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, said in his introduction, we should take pride in our role as a founder and use our influence to put our principles into practice.
We must also stand unwavering in our support for NATO and strengthen our bond with our closest security allies. As my noble friends Lord Reid and Lord Browne and other noble Lords have made clear, in increasing the number of nuclear warheads the Government are not only undermining the non-proliferation treaty but recklessly out of step with our NATO partners. The Opposition are fully committed to the renewal of Trident to deter the most extreme threats to our national security, but we must also use our position as a nuclear power to support multilateral controls on these weapons.
As the review acknowledges, we will always be strongest when we work in tandem with our closest partners, including on our international obligations, but there is no question that our position as a bridge between Europe and the United States has been put under strain over the past decade. Together, the United Kingdom, the United States and Europe can provide an unrivalled united front for the values that we share. Beyond the US and Europe, we must also deepen our co-operation with other Five Eyes allies and look to emerging powers that share our world view.
This includes some in the Indo-Pacific, particularly fellow democracies, but this will require more than warm words, and the Government’s plans seem rather thin on detail. Do the Government see this as a relationship based on security, regional trade or values? Where are the resources to back up this proposal? Will the Government request partner status at ASEAN? Do they intend to work within existing structures only?
We must strengthen our ties with civil society too, and there is little of substance on this in the review. Women’s organisations, charities, faith groups, trade unions and other organised communities have all demonstrated that their role in geopolitics is indispensable. When nations fail in their most important task of providing safety, security and freedom for their people, it is always civil society that leaps first to their defence.
By breaking legislation and a manifesto commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on ODA, the aid budget weakens our credibility, as we have heard in this debate. It will strip life-saving support from millions of people. I emphasise that maintaining 0.7% would not have avoided cuts—it would still have resulted in cuts to ODA—but it would have helped to maintain the order of priorities. That is where this review and the Government have got it wrong. When will the Government come to Parliament, present the change to legislation and put it to a vote?
Our commitment to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable also means spending on the right aid projects. That means supporting multipliers, such as nutrition, clean water and education, which have myriad development benefits. Unfortunately, today’s announcement has shown that the Government are cutting these exact schemes.
As we heard in the debate, analysis by Save the Children suggests that spending on education for girls—a government priority—would reduce by 25% compared with 2019-20 levels. The charity also estimated that spending on humanitarian preparedness and response would be cut by 44%. As the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, said, on Tuesday the FCDO Yemen development director told the Commons IDC that the decision to cut foreign aid to Yemen by more than 50% was made without any assessment of the impact on women, those with disabilities or internally displaced people. We have to assume that these cuts are being made with no coherent strategy or clear understanding of their impact.
I am pleased to see that the integrated review confirmed that a development Command Paper will soon be published, but there seems to be no timeline for when this will appear. Can the Minister confirm when the international development paper will be published?
As my noble friend Lord McConnell said, the cuts to ODA will make the world a more unpredictable and insecure place. Notwithstanding the moral and humanitarian case to alleviate poverty, this continued injustice will often manifest itself in national, regional and global threats if not addressed. Inequality can be one of the biggest drivers of insecurity.
Despite the review confirming that Russia poses the greatest threat to our security, the Government still have not fully implemented any of the Russia report’s recommendations. I repeat the question I put to the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, earlier: can the Minister explain the Government’s failure to implement any of the Russia report’s recommendations? After all, it is 18 months since the report was completed and more than three years since the chemical weapons attack in Salisbury.
The Government’s inconsistency towards Russia must end, and the same can be said for China. The integrated review warns that China
“presents the biggest state-based threat to the UK’s economic security”,
yet the Government have refused a complete audit of our relationship with that state. The noble Baroness and the noble Lord, Lord Ahmad, often speak against the human rights violations in Hong Kong, yet the Government are reopening two UK-China government investment forums that closed when Beijing introduced the national security law. They are being reintroduced when that law is not only still there but being enforced, and people are being put in prison as a consequence of it. It does not make sense.
The Foreign Office sanctions officials for their persecution of the Uighur Muslims, but refuses—as the noble Lord, Lord Alton, said—to back Trade Bill amendments preventing deals with countries suspected of genocide. I hope the Minister will respond to the noble Lord’s specific questions on this point.
I will conclude. If the Government are truly to stand for our values as a nation, their actions must match their words. I repeat what the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, said: we need once again to become a reliable and trusted voice in the world.
My Lords, we have had another fascinating and thought-provoking debate today on the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy. One of the challenges confronting anyone who has to wind up on such a debate is that I am confronted by a fragrant pot-pourri of issues relating to foreign affairs, international development, defence, global relations, global engagement and response to threats. It was a wide-ranging debate. I have a heap of notes here and will try to address some of the major issues that have emerged.
As usual, shining through the debate is the expertise your Lordships have in this area. In my opinion, the House of Lords is quite simply a centre of excellence. This was eloquently recognised by my noble friend Lord Godson in his excellent maiden speech. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions. I am very glad that the noble Baroness, Lady Smith of Newnham, found the debate welcome and that I am visible to her. It has never occurred to me that that was a particularly pleasing prospect to anyone but, none the less, if it affords her pleasure, it is certainly always a pleasure to see her.
I will touch shortly on some of the substantive points that have been made. However, I would first like to return to our starting point and remind colleagues of the context in which this review has been conducted. As the most comprehensive report into our defence and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War, our review paints a compelling picture of the complex, diverse and swiftly changing pace of the threats our nation faces. I welcome the recognition of the significance of the integrated review which my noble friend Lord Howell, among others, articulated. I also welcome the comments made about the review by the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Houghton, and the noble Lords, Lord Robertson and Lord Alderdice, albeit that they had questions to ask. I much appreciated the comments on the integrated review by the noble Lord, Lord Hannay. I think it is recognised, across the Chamber, that this is a significant piece of work.
We are living in an age of systemic competition. As events on the Ukrainian border remind us, we are confronting a resurgent Russia, whose threat to our security goes well beyond the conventional. Contrary to what the critics say—that this is an incoherent or a disintegrated review—it is the very opposite: it is demonstrably integrated. We live in a world where Iran and North Korea continue to destabilise their regions. An increasingly assertive China is modernising and expanding its military. All the while, globalisation and technological proliferation are challenging western security and paving the way for global competition over our trade, values and interests. Gone is the notion that our western scientific edge will always win the day. Today, cheap technology gives our enemies more options. Gone, too, is the idea that our competitors wage war only in open, large-scale conflicts. Instead, our adversaries seek to target our values and undermine our democracy through insidious activity in the grey zone. Instead of a binary state of peace and war, we find ourselves caught in a netherworld of constant competition
However, as my noble friend Lord Ahmad outlined so eloquently, the integrated review presents a bold strategy for British leadership and the domestic renewal that will strengthen our nation at home and abroad. It is a plan to use all the levers of state in unison, with defence playing a vital role. It is a plan not just to protect our people and interests but to invest in science and technology while using our international networks and global footprint to exert influence intelligently to deliver an effective impact.
Coupled with our integrated operating concept and the recent publication of our defence Command Paper, we have signalled the biggest shift in our defence policy for 30 years. Backed up by the Prime Minister’s additional investment of more than £24 billion, defence will now modernise to meet the dangers and deliver a bold vision for the United Kingdom. That vision will see our Armed Forces operating on both sides of the threshold of armed conflict, and see our people forward deployed, persistently present—my noble friend Lord Lancaster rightly emphasised the importance of that—and constantly campaigning to protect and promote the interests and values of the United Kingdom and her allies. The noble Lord, Lord Hannay, is absolutely right about the essential role of allies and partners. That is the only route to aggregate improved global security and collaboration. I am pleased to confirm that the UK’s tangible dynamism is generating global interest. I will now try and pick up on some of the specific and incisive points which have been raised.
The noble Lord Tunnicliffe, kicked off the debate in response to the Minister. I have the greatest affection and respect for him, but today I thought he was rather more of a glass-half-empty rather than a glass-half-full kind of chap. I felt that his reflection was an unjustifiably gloomy perspective. I would just say to him, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, pointed out, that our whole approach is predicated on threat. That is what determines what kind of defence capabilities we need. As I said, we have over £24 billion to reform and reduce our Armed Forces, the defence budget will grow consistently between 2019-22 and 2024-25, and it comfortably exceeds both the 2019 manifesto of a 0.5% increase per year and the NATO commitment of 2% GDP on defence. We are securing jobs, investing in UK industry, buying the next-generation capabilities and research, especially in cyber and space. I would therefore say to the noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, that this is an exciting perspective. That is a defence future brimming with optimism and purpose, and this delivers what we need to meet the threat.
I suspect that the noble Lord, Lord Kerr, was trying to nip at my ankles like a wee Scottie dog. I do not agree that this is the vision of a small gorilla beating its chest. This outlines the vision of a country that reflects a serious global defence contributor.
The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, like the noble Lord, Lord West, raised the issue of the Royal Navy, which is exceedingly important. As they are both aware, our ambition is to grow to 24 frigates and destroyers in the 2030s on a continuous drumbeat of shipbuilding, strengthening the union and UK prosperity to become the foremost naval power in Europe. They will be aware of the exciting shipbuilding programme now in course.
At times I rather felt that the noble Baroness, Lady Northover, was looking through the rear-view mirror rather than gazing through a clear windscreen. She is absolutely right: of course the EU is important, and we seek a positive partnership with it, both diplomatically and in respect of defence. We are of course the biggest defence spender in Europe and the second largest spender in NATO. Separately from that, we have strong bilateral relationships with various EU countries and we certainly value these engagements. So there is no question that the EU and EU member states matter to us. The security of the EU directly impacts on the security of the United Kingdom and I wish to make clear that we are very conscious of that and will never overlook it.
The noble Baroness, Lady Northover, among others, including my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns, my noble friend Lord Balfe, and the noble Lords, Lord Purvis of Tweed and Lord McNicol of West Kilbride, raised the important matter of overseas development assistance. I have to say—I am probably repeating information already known to your Lordships—that we are having to pitch our ODA spend on the back of a UK economy 11.3% smaller than last year and undergoing its worst contraction for 300 years. The deficit this year is projected to be double its peak during the financial crisis. Against that backdrop, we have been forced to prioritise public spending, including temporarily—it is temporary—reducing ODA from 0.7% to 0.5% of GNI. However, we are still spending £10 billion on ODA in 2021 and we will return to 0.7% of GNI as soon as the fiscal situation allows. It may be worth reminding your Lordships that the UK remains a development superpower because, based on OECD data for 2020, the UK will be the third-largest ODA donor in the G7 as a percentage of GNI in 2021, spending a greater percentage of our GNI than the United States, Japan, Canada or Italy.
On girls, I say to the noble Baroness, Lady Armstrong of Hill Top, that this year the FCDO will invest £400 million in girls’ education in over 25 countries. I, too, was conscious of something missing today, which is simply Lord Judd, who was her close friend. He was an indefatigable contributor to our proceedings and it has been clear from the comments made during the debate just how much he is missed.
My noble friend Lady Anelay and the noble Lord, Lord Purvis of Tweed, asked questions about the approach to ODA. The approach marks a strategic shift, because it is putting our aid budget to work alongside our diplomatic network, our science and technology expertise and our economic partnerships in tackling global challenges. That is an important tandem to observe and will make sure that spend is more focused and, I hope, more effective in creating and achieving positive results.
The noble Lords, Lord Purvis and Lord McNicol, and others, raised the matter of Yemen. The UK has pledged at least £87 million of aid to Yemen, making us the fifth largest contributor in 2021-22. That is a floor; it is not a ceiling. The noble Lord, Lord McNicol, asked specifically about the development strategy. As he noted, the Government committed to publish a new international development strategy, building in the priorities set out in the integrated review. The strategy will be published this year.
The matter of Afghanistan was raised specifically by my noble friend Lady Anelay of St Johns. I reassure her that the UK remains committed to supporting Afghanistan on its path to a more peaceful and positive future. We are working closely with the United States and with our NATO allies and partners to support a secure and stable Afghanistan. That is a relationship—and interest—which endures beyond withdrawal. The focus now has to be on the political solution and political progress. That is the next phase of Afghanistan’s development, as the Secretary General of NATO so pertinently pointed out.
The matter of nuclear was raised by a number of your Lordships, including the noble Lord, Lord Reid of Cardowan, my noble friends Lord Howell and Lord King of Bridgwater, the noble Baroness, Lady Smith, and others. A number of issues arose. As a general observation, I would say that a policy of deterrence requires a deterrent which deters. It has to maintain that ability. That is why an increase in warheads was deemed necessary. In relation to the stockpile of warheads, we have consistently stated that we will both keep our nuclear posture under constant review in the light of the international security environment and the actions of potential adversaries. We will maintain the minimum destructive power needed to guarantee that the deterrent remains credible.
The modest 15% change to the nuclear stockpile ceiling and the decision about how we deploy weapons have been taken in the context of a darkening threat picture, and driven by changing judgments on what we need to deliver to achieve the required deterrent effect. So I say to the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, that as a Government we need to make these judgments and we do not apologise for doing that. The noble Baroness, Lady Smith, specifically raised the issue of compliance with the non-proliferation treaty. We are fully compliant with the treaty and we are deeply committed to our collective long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons under the framework of the NPT. That is only achieved by multilateral disarmament, not by weakening the deterrent.
My noble friend Lord King of Bridgwater raised an important issue about communications in these difficult times. We certainly live in a very different environment to what many of us were familiar with some years ago. We take the crisis communications very seriously. We are confident that our nuclear communications infrastructure remains resilient in the current heightened security environment.
In a slightly different context, my noble friend Lord Wei raised vital matters such as defence, security and resilience against new threats of pandemics and disease. How do we respond, and what is our pre-planning? It is a vital issue and reaches across several government departments, so I shall look at his contribution in Hansard and offer to write to him.
A number of your Lordships raise the important issue of climate change in general and COP 26 in particular. The noble Lord, Lord McDonald of Salford, specifically raised this issue and was interested in overseas territories, and the noble Baroness, Lady Bennett of Manor Castle, also raised the matter. I noted her comments, but I would argue that the UK is making major efforts in setting an example and, with COP 26, providing a vitally important forum for discussion later this year in the very attractive city of Glasgow.
My noble friend Lord Sheikh asked about climate change. It will be the UK’s highest international priority for the next decade, including biodiversity loss. This week we committed to set in law the world’s most ambitious climate change target, cutting emissions by 78% by 2035 compared to 1990 levels. As I mentioned a moment ago, the noble Lord, Lord McDonald, was interested in the particular position of the overseas territories. We have been working closely with all overseas territories in the lead-up to COP 26. We regularly meet representatives, and our officials engage with them, from the overseas territories to ensure that their unique perspectives are accurately represented.
A number of noble Lords raised the issue of China. I thought the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, gave a fascinating analysis on China. He rightly identified the delicate and difficult balance of maintaining discourse and trade, but calling out wrong, however and whenever it arises. That is certainly the approach we would wish to pursue. The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Houghton, provided a thought-provoking commentary in relation to the United Kingdom articulating a moral authority. That is a profound and wise observation, and the integrated review reflects an aspiration by the UK to demonstrate, articulate and represent our values and principles and be a global leader for positive achievements in that respect.
The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, and my noble friend Lady Meyer also asked about our attitude to China. I have to say that we see China’s increasing international assertiveness and scale as potentially the most significant geopolitical shifts in the 2020s, but continued co-operation is vital in tackling the most important international challenges of this generation, from climate change to biodiversity. We will always call out what is wrong. The IR reflects that we need to adapt to a more competitive world; we are clear that China is vital to solving global issues, so we must and will continue to find areas on which to collaborate.
The matter of the Indo-Pacific came up. Specifically, the noble Lord, Lord, Bilimoria, echoed by the noble Viscount, Lord Waverley, and the noble Baroness, Lady D’Souza, had an interest in that issue. I am particularly grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, not just for his positive reception for the integrated review but for his helpful commentary on the language we use when we describe it as the Indo-Pacific tilt. I am pleased that that resonates positively with him. The Indo-Pacific is critical to the UK’s economy, our security and our global ambition to support open societies. By 2030, the Indo-Pacific will represent more than 40% of global GDP. The noble Lord, Lord Collins, asked what the Indo-Pacific tilt means. I would say it is a healthy miscellany of objectives, because it means a commitment to long-term, integrated engagement to ensure that we safeguard UK economic and security interests, and that open societies and values are protected. That requires both a diplomatic and defence endeavour.
My noble friend Lord Risby raised the matter of Russia and how we are responding to Russia. NATO is the enduring guarantee of our security and we work continuously to strengthen alliance capabilities to defend and deter threats emanating from Russia. We will work with NATO allies to ensure a united western response, combining military intelligence and diplomatic efforts. UK forces have a leading role in NATO’s enhanced forward presence in the Baltic states to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure our allies and deter adversaries.
My noble friend Lady Meyer asked about Ukraine. We are unwavering in our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as we have demonstrated through sanctions on Russia since 2014, and we are monitoring the situation closely. Since 2017, our Russia strategy and cross-government Russian unit has brought together the UK’s diplomatic, intelligence and military capability to maximum effect. It is a working example of the key principles of the integrated review.
I think the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Craig, was the only Member to raise specifically the issue of the new structure for the National Cyber Force. I seem to have made a poor effort of reassuring him, so let me try and do slightly better. It is a partnership between Defence and GCHQ and the Defence and Foreign Secretaries have joint political accountability. Official level governance bodies engage the full range of departmental stakeholders in the National Cyber Force’s requirements, delivery and long-term development. The Ministry of Defence is providing the growth funding for the cyber force, so the MoD Permanent Secretary is the principle accounting officer who sits in defence and as part of strategic command. There is a well-integrated awareness of activity and a well-understood programme for activity.
I conclude by focusing specifically on defence issues. Let us be clear: the threats have moved on and we must move with them. The next decade will bring unprecedented levels of investment in defence, with more than £85 billion spent on new equipment and support in the next four years alone. There will be new ships and missiles for the Royal Navy, new fighter aircraft and sensors for the RAF and a more deployed and better protected Army. The threat is global; our reach with our allies and partners is also global. At home, our mission to protect our people and enhance our economy will extend to the very fingertips of the union. Even as we continue to support British industry and security to the tune of billions of pounds, we will keep strengthening our global leadership, shaping the open international order for the better and remaining a force for good in the world.
Above all in defence, we will continue backing our people. They are not just this nation’s finest asset but the best possible ambassadors for global Britain. In the midst of Covid, our brave men and women in the Armed Forces have shown their mettle. We will do more than give them the skills they need to adapt to a new age. We will do more to look after their families. We will do more to reach out to every corner of our country and create a military that truly represents us all. Our reforms will create a bolder force for a bolder Britain; a force both resilient and ready to confront the complex challenges of an era of constant competition.
This has been a fascinating debate. I repeat my appreciation of and gratitude to noble Lords who have contributed. It has been an important opportunity for an exchange of information and views and I thank noble Lords for their participation.