DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – TERRORISM RISKS – 9 December 2002

Dr Julian Lewis: The Secretary of State has rightly acknowledged that, if there is military action against Iraq, British military facilities will be made available to our American allies. However, we have also heard in answer to questions by my hon. Friends on the Opposition Front Bench that the Civil Contingencies Reaction Force will not be available until the end of 2003 to deal with a terrorist attack on this country, that the Typhoon aircraft will not be available until well into 2003 to deal with, among other things, a terrorist attack on this country and that there appear to be no anti-missile defences around nuclear power stations to deal with a terrorist attack on this country. Will appropriate measures be taken, at least, to protect British military facilities, which may soon be in a state of war, against a terrorist attack against this country?

[Geoff Hoon: I welcome the hon. Gentleman to his new responsibilities on the Opposition Front Bench. I cannot help but observe that the Opposition Front-Bench team requires more by way of numbers than the Government team. The Opposition obviously required reinforcements from the rear.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that the capabilities of the United Kingdom's armed forces will be prepared and available to deal with any military contingency however it should arise. It is not appropriate for me to go into the precise detail of confidential exchanges between Governments, but I assure him and the House that appropriate protective measures will be in place should military action be decided on.]