Dr Julian Lewis: I do not wish to inject a depressing note into proceedings, but the Minister mentioned the Taliban in Afghanistan. There are many of us who are very concerned about the announcement of a specific end date without a clear military support plan for the Government for which our troops have sacrificed so much. It does not sit well with the objectives that we set ourselves all those years ago in intervening in Afghanistan. I wonder whether he can say anything about that.
[The Minister for the Armed Forces (James Heappey): That could be the subject of an entire Backbench Business debate and I know, Mr Deputy Speaker, that you are keen to move the business on. I will say two things in response to my right hon. Friend’s point. First, he gives me an opportunity to mark the enormous sacrifice of all British service personnel who have served in Afghanistan since 2003. They have done amazing things in an extraordinarily challenging country, and I know from my own experience soldiering there just how grim the grimmest days of that campaign were. He also rightly makes the point that Afghanistan has reached a crossroads. I stand by the argument that I made during the statement on our withdrawal from Afghanistan three or four weeks ago. I believe that it has forced a moment of political decision making in Afghanistan that would not otherwise have come, and I think it is right that the international community has done that, but we all, of course, share his concerns about what the future of the country might hold.]
[For Julian's speech in this debate click here.]