Julian Brazier: The strategic defence and security review made defence engagement a funded, core MOD task. We are building our capacity to address global security concerns at source by influencing partner countries. This includes strengthening the defence attaché network and developing a professional defence engagement career stream, to attract the very best. Furthermore, each Army adaptable brigade is now...
Julian Brazier: We are very conscious of the importance of the Baltics. Most of the ministerial team, including the Secretary of State and me, have been to visit them. My hon. Friend will be well aware of the air patrols and everything that we have done there, and of our programme of exercises. As for Lieutenant Commander Balme, Churchill once famously said that the only campaign that kept him continuously...
Julian Brazier: My hon. Friend is quite right. We are sending training missions which are doing vital upstream work in a large number of countries, helping to deliver the environment that is needed to prevent future wars and conflicts.
Julian Brazier: Human rights advisers do play a role. Specifically, the armed forces now contain a number of advisers who specialise in giving advice on gender matters, such as protecting women in conflict. One or two of them have put themselves very much in harm’s way by giving advice in dangerous theatres.
Julian Brazier: We have one of the strictest regimes in the world for controlling exports. I would say that exporting to a key ally at a dangerous time in the middle east was smart power.
Julian Brazier: Our programme to grow the reserve forces remains on track, and has reversed many years of decline. Central to that is an improved offer, including better training, equipment and remuneration, and an improved experience for reservists. A total of 8,640 people joined the volunteer reserve in the 12 months to 1 December, a 46% increase on the number who joined during the equivalent period a...
Julian Brazier: I do not accept that. The Major Projects Authority report to which the hon. Lady referred is more than a year old, and the figure that she identified as the target—35,000 trained reservists—must be reached by April 2019. We are moving fast in that direction.
Julian Brazier: I will pass my hon. Friend’s ingenious idea to colleagues and we will look at it for him.
Julian Brazier: We had to take some painful decisions when we took over in 2010 as part of the coalition Government, because the country was spending £4 for every £3 coming in. After the reshaping, we have now moved to a position where, despite there still being some tough decisions to take, this country has committed to spending 2% on defence and to a large expansion of its equipment programme.
Julian Brazier: Yes, it does. It was a huge privilege to be there for what was actually the re-inauguration of reserve paratroopers in Rugby, and, even more so, to have the opportunity to meet an Arnhem veteran there.
Julian Brazier: The largest changes in pay have actually been to reservists, where we have introduced holiday pay for the first time. We have also introduced a pension for the first time; it was previously only available to those who mobilised. I think it is fair to say that the changes in the regular pay arrangements, which are basically a simplification, have also gone down well.
Julian Brazier: Northern Ireland has always been an excellent recruiting ground for both regulars and reservists, and I am conscious also of the fact that, beyond the statistics, as the hon. Gentleman mentions, a higher proportion of people from Northern Ireland have been mobilised than from any other part of the UK.
Julian Brazier: I would be delighted to meet my hon. Friend and the National Rifle Association. I should say though that, although handling youngsters on a rifle range is very skilled business, we cannot find any evidence from any of the four service organisations that there is a particularly acute shortage in that regard, although some individual cases have been brought to my attention. None the less I...
Julian Brazier: The UK respects the sovereign responsibilities of the eight Arctic states while promoting our own interests in the region. We engage with the security of the region through the Arctic security forces roundtable, and directly with Arctic nations. We maintain naval and air assets capable of deploying to the region, and Arctic trained and equipped forces, including elements of 3 Commando Brigade.
Julian Brazier: I cannot confirm what the hon. Gentleman asks for about RAF Leuchars, but if he waits until half-past 3, he should hear some excellent news for Scotland.
Julian Brazier: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question, but he will have to wait until half-past 3 for confirmation of the future of our amphibious capability. I take on board his point about under-ice submarines, and I will write to him about that.
Julian Brazier: I thoroughly agree with the hon. Lady.
Julian Brazier: I entirely agree with my hon. Friend.
Julian Brazier: The hon. Gentleman will have to wait until 3.30 pm for the detail, but I just remind him that the Defence Committee shared the Government’s view that the Nimrod programme was dying. I am very glad that it should be possible to give some better news a little later today.
Julian Brazier: As the hon. Gentleman knows, I cannot give him a detailed answer. I can, however, say that the future for Scotland will look even brighter after 3.30 pm. We have just completed, in the past few months, the largest far north exercise in NATO history.