DEFENCE – FALKLAND ISLANDS – 24 March 2015

Dr Julian Lewis: The size of the Royal Navy has greatly diminished since 1982. Does the Secretary of State agree that countries such as Russia and Argentina tend to respond to the signals we send them? Would it not send a terrible signal to the Argentine Government if we failed to give a commitment to continue to spend at least the NATO-recommended minimum of 2% of GDP on defence throughout the lifetime of the next Parliament?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon): I hope the signal that will go out from the House today – from both sides of the House – will be the signal to the islanders themselves that this Government are determined to ensure their defence for the short, medium and long term, and will always protect their right to determine their future.

My right hon. Friend drew attention to the smaller number of ships. He will of course be aware that the ships we have today are much more powerful than some of the earlier platforms. He will know that we are constructing two new aircraft carriers and building altogether seven new hunter-killer submarines, and that the Prime Minister has recently announced the next phase of the construction of the Type 26 frigate fleet on the Clyde.]