New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: The reason why, in opposition, the shadow Defence ministerial team opposed naming an advance date for withdrawal was the fear that the Taliban would redouble their efforts in the run-up to that date. Given that we are where we are with such a date, is it not obvious that a move towards a strategy of maintaining one or more long-term strategic bases in Afghanistan would show the Taliban the need to negotiate a solution and a settlement? Without that, it will not happen.

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): My hon. Friend makes reference to the widely held view that US policy favours the retention for the long term of a number of US strategic bases in Afghanistan. That will be an issue for the United States. I can tell the House that the UK Government have no appetite for a long-term combat role in Afghanistan, and have made it very clear that we will be out of the combat role by the end of 2014.]