Dr Julian Lewis: My right hon. Friend is a reassuring presence at the Dispatch Box, and I congratulate him on his recent appointment to his post. Does he agree that all that will deter Putin from the use of nuclear weapons is the thought that: a) they may be ineffective; and b) their use may not result in the west withdrawing its military support for Ukraine, which is what has enabled it to resist successfully so far? Is it not therefore imperative that the west makes it clear that the support will continue? Did he note the remarks of General David Petraeus, who said that western support, in conventional terms, would be redoubled if Putin made any such move?
[The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Alec Shelbrooke): I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his kind comments. Indeed, General Petraeus really just outlines the situation overall that NATO is united. It is a defensive force and a nuclear defensive force. I am proud that this country has had a constant at-sea nuclear deterrent for almost 54 years. Statistically, that is deemed to be impossible, but it is something we have achieved and continue to achieve. That acts as a major counterbalance to any leader of a country who may be thinking that nuclear weapons may be something to use. The policy has been shown to work, but we have to calm down and take the air out of the talk about where we are moving with the nuclear rhetoric. It is highly irresponsible of the Kremlin to be upping the rhetoric on nuclear weapons, and I hope that it will draw back from those comments, because the last thing we want to see is any miscalculation and we must make sure that it does everything to take it out. Fundamentally, to answer my right hon. Friend, the NATO alliance is showing just how united it is and that it will stand up to this level of nuclear threat.]