Carrier Strike Group Deployment - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:01 pm on 28 April 2021.

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Photo of Lord Wallace of Saltaire Lord Wallace of Saltaire Liberal Democrat Lords Spokesperson (Cabinet Office) 7:01, 28 April 2021

My Lords, I am a little worried by the air of nostalgia in several paragraphs of this Statement, with references to our

“proud history … legendary Second World War vessels”,

and so on.

Does the Minister recall the speeches our then Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, made in his visits to the Middle East in December 2016 and early 2017, in which he talked about Britain returning east of Suez, having major bases in the Gulf and Diego Garcia and stationing vessels permanently out there—and, perhaps, marines and troops? Does she worry that this may lead us to overextension? Does she also recall that part of the justification for the withdrawal from east of Suez in the mid-1960s was that in order to sustain a ship on station in Singapore or east Singapore, it was estimated that four other vessels were needed—going out, coming back, working up and under refit? If that is what we are committed to, I strongly support the noble Lord, Lord West, in that we need an awful lot more frigates and aircraft carriers than we have.