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UK Armed Forces: Wales’s Contribution

Part of Special Educational Needs: Isle of Wight – in Westminster Hall at 4:42 pm on 25th February 2020.

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Photo of Fay Jones Fay Jones Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire 4:42 pm, 25th February 2020

I absolutely agree with my right hon. Friend. I know that discussions are ongoing between the UK Government and the Welsh Government, and I am very optimistic that a way forward can, and must, be found.

Despite their admirable pride in being Welsh, none of our regular infantry units is permanently based in Wales. The 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards is based at Robertson barracks, in Norwich in Norfolk. That barracks is scheduled for closure in 2031, which may present an opportunity to bring one of our regiments home to Wales—I know that my constituents in Brecon and Radnorshire would welcome it with open arms. I am confident that the Prime Minister’s major security and defence review will seek to embolden and expand the armed forces presence in Wales. The most significant review for decades will no doubt further commit the UK to NATO’s 2% of GDP spending target. The significance of that target and its impact on spending in Wales cannot be overstated.

With an evolving and complex international security situation, it has never been more appropriate to have the Welsh warriors take a leading role in promoting the UK’s defence and forging policy priorities. Later this year, the Royal Welsh will be conducting joint training exercises with the US, Canada and France, our NATO allies. In testing geopolitical times, that regiment will be underscoring its determination to strengthen the UK’s bond to the alliance. The 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards will be conducting pre-deployment training for operations in Mali, where it will hold the crucial role of supporting the significant peacekeeping effort in that country—a strategic priority for the UK’s interests in the region. The Welsh Guards will be deployed to Kenya and Belize later this year, as well as taking part in the Queen’s birthday parade in the spring. That international outlook should reassure us all regarding the UK’s position as a global security leader.

The Welsh regiments have a brave history matched by few, and a future as bright as any, and it now falls to us all to ensure that our commitment to those regiments matches their commitment to supporting the UK’s armed forces. As many generations before them have done, sons—and now daughters—with the red dragon on their arm will assume their place representing the very best of Wales and the very best of our Union.