Defence Spending in Scotland — [Joan Ryan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:13 pm on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 4:13 pm, 6th February 2019

My hon. Friend makes a very important point, which my hon. Friend Kirstene Hair, who is sitting next to him, raised at Scottish questions just a few weeks ago. Of course, we will have to analyse the latest situation. If we need to make that mitigation, we will do so. The fact is that armed forces are sent where they are needed—they do not choose where they live—so we will step in where necessary to ensure that they are not disadvantaged.

As the dangers to the United Kingdom increase, it is even more vital that Scotland remains a pivotal part of UK defence. That is why we are upping our defence spending there. When it comes to the military footprint in Scotland, force levels will continue to grow. A further 550 military personnel and their families will be based in Moray by 2024. Significantly, numbers on Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde will also increase, to 8,200, while the base benefits from further investment of £1.2 billion over the next decade. HMNB Clyde will also become the base port for all the Royal Navy’s submarines, including its fleet of attack submarines, and the UK’s submarine centre of excellence. That is only fitting, since by the 2030s it will welcome four next-generation Dreadnought-class nuclear deterrent submarines too.

Meanwhile, this year, RAF Lossiemouth, which is in the constituency of my hon. Friend Douglas Ross, will welcome its fourth Typhoon squadron, making Scotland home to half of the RAF’s Typhoon force. Thanks to its close proximity to the north Atlantic, where enemy submarines are most likely to operate, Lossiemouth will also be a base for our nine P-8A maritime patrol aircraft, with a £132 million operational support and training facility being built to support them. That will create a further 200 jobs and, once fully operational, bring some 550 additional RAF personnel on site. I know my hon. Friend has been a good advocate of that.

Since becoming Minister for Defence Procurement, I have been pleased to observe the truly unique relationship with Scotland at first hand, and I am determined to do everything in my power to ensure that it continues to go from strength to strength.