Mark Lancaster: The Royal Navy and Royal Marines are integral to the UK’s global reputation in amphibious warfare. That is why the Government remain committed to ensuring the future of the amphibious warfare capability within our future force structures.
Mark Lancaster: I am second to none in my admiration for the Royal Marines. Indeed, one of the highlights of my time as Armed Forces Minister has been presenting the green berets to them. I can absolutely assure my hon. Friend that there is a strong future for the Royal Marines as part of our armed forces. Of course, they are currently serving on HMS Albion off the Korean peninsula.
Mark Lancaster: Well, this seems to be a monthly exchange on the same subject, with the same question and, I fear, with same answer forthcoming: there are currently no plans to change the end-of-service dates for HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, which are 2033 and 2034.
Mark Lancaster: The MOD has more than doubled the number of British forces on UN peacekeeping missions in the past three years in accordance with the commitment made in the strategic defence and security review in 2015. This is through new deployments to the UN missions in South Sudan and Somalia, in addition to our long-standing commitment to the UN mission in Cyprus. That means that we have increased...
Mark Lancaster: I met the UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jean-Pierre Lacroix, in London last month, and that is just the sort of discussion we have with him. There are a number of areas where we think that closer co-operation between the UN and NATO can be of benefit, and that is precisely why we are increasing our commitment to the UN in practical terms.
Mark Lancaster: Defence takes cyber-threats very seriously, and we regularly assess our ability to defend against them. We are strengthening our defences against increasingly sophisticated attacks through a wide range of technical, operational and administrative measures, including close co-operation with the National Cyber Security Centre.
Mark Lancaster: I am delighted to say that it is. My hon. Friend hits on a key issue. We have recognised that many of the skillsets we need sit in the private sector, which is why we have actively recruited reserves into this area, and I am delighted to say that the joint cyber reserve unit is now at 90% strength.
Mark Lancaster: I can only update the hon. Gentleman about the opening of the National Cyber Security Centre just a mile down the road. That is precisely why the Government have invested some £1.9 billion in cyber over the past few years.
Mark Lancaster: My hon. Friend raises an important point. That is precisely why I was honoured to open the new Defence Cyber School at Shrivenham in March. We recognise that basic cyber-skills will be vital in our armed forces. This will become a separate career branch in time, but we hope that every member of the armed forces will have cyber-skills.
Mark Lancaster: No, I absolutely do not. The hon. Lady’s comments are slightly short-sighted. There have been challenges for the defence recruiting system in recent months, but I am confident that, because of some of the hypercare measures, we are firmly on the up.
Mark Lancaster: Indeed, as a serving reservist for some 30 years, I hope there is no greater champion of reserves in the House, but my hon. Friend makes an important point. We should celebrate reserves not just on Reserves Day, but almost every day of the year. To that end, we are looking carefully at other opportunities.
Mark Lancaster: I am sorry that the hon. Lady belittles cyber with such a cheap remark. If she were serious about the security of this country, she would recognise that the Government have invested more than £1.9 billion in cyber in recent years. We recently opened the Defence Cyber School to ensure that it is ingrained in the training of our armed forces.
Mark Lancaster: I start by congratulating my hon. Friend the Member for Aldershot (Leo Docherty) on securing the debate. That these issues were last debated just a month ago in Westminster Hall demonstrates Parliament’s commitment to supporting members of our armed forces, both serving and retired. The idea of a statute of limitations has recently drawn support from many in this place. My right hon....
Mark Lancaster: I am grateful to my right hon. Friend. I will address that point if he will bear with me. Because there are a range of opinions, as well as requesting contributions as to how the Stormont House institutions could be implemented, the Northern Ireland Office consultation includes an open question inviting wider views on alternative ways of addressing Northern Ireland’s past. That open...
Mark Lancaster: I am very grateful to have the opportunity to wind up this debate. I intend to carry on from the very constructive way in which the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Wayne David) wound up for Her Majesty’s Opposition. We have indeed had a constructive, passionate and wide-ranging debate. I am grateful to hon. Members for their ongoing and active engagement with these important issues,...
Mark Lancaster: No, I will not. I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Sir Michael Fallon) for what he did as Defence Secretary. It was an honour to serve under him, and he did much to move this agenda forward. He spoke about the opportunity that the summit would bring us, and, in particular—this related very much to the agenda of the Supreme Allied Commander...
Mark Lancaster: Oh, all right, I will, but I have only two minutes left.
Mark Lancaster: I will. I think that we are leaders in cyber. That was discussed during Defence questions. As was said then, we have invested £1.9 billion in cyber, and in March we opened the new state-of-the-art Defence Cyber School in Shrivenham. I am determined that cyber skills will be a key component for all members of our armed forces. The hon. Member for West Dunbartonshire (Martin...
Mark Lancaster: The Ministry of Defence takes cyber-threats very seriously, and we regularly assess our ability to defend against them. We are strengthening our defences against increasingly sophisticated attacks through a wide range of technical, operational and administrative measures, including close co-operation with the National Cyber Security Centre.
Mark Lancaster: I am grateful for that question as it gives me the opportunity to highlight that we have invested and continue to invest in cyber-capabilities, including with the opening of the defence cyber-school in March, a £40 million investment in a new cyber-security operations capability, and £265 million towards a new cyber-vulnerability investigation programme.