[The Minister for the Armed Forces (Mr Bob Ainsworth): ... Operationally, it is worth reminding ourselves that the Royal Navy has provided a continuous independent nuclear deterrent at sea since 1969. That is the ultimate guarantee of our national security, and it involves a submarine under the sea, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. I drifted on to the ConservativeHome website the other day, as I do from time to time, and I looked at the debate there. That is part of the democratic process, and I accept that parties have to have these debates, but it would be enormously helpful to the people who provide that service to our nation if Opposition Members clarified – they can do so now, if they wish, or in their speeches – their support or otherwise for that continued provision.]
Dr Julian Lewis: I am terribly disappointed. For a moment, I thought that the Minister was going to say that he had read my long essay on the vital need for the nuclear deterrent, which appears on the conservativehome website. I am terribly disappointed that he appears to have overlooked it.
[Mr Ainsworth: I have read the hon. Gentleman's contribution to that debate but, equally, I read what others say. There is a difficulty for Opposition Members, is there not? On the one hand, they are committed to a bigger Army – or are they? Clarification would be most welcome ... ]
[NOTE: For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]