Sir Julian Lewis: The Prime Minister was clearly absolutely justified to respond as he did, particularly after the direct attack against HMS Diamond, but given that at the time of the Falklands campaign we had 35 frigates and destroyers and were spending 4.5% of GDP on defence, whereas both those figures can be cut in half to describe our situation today, does he agree that we certainly should not be reducing the numbers of frigates or destroyers, and that we certainly should not be mothballing, or otherwise decommissioning, our amphibious assault ships?
[The Prime Minister: I am happy to reassure my right hon. Friend that our intention is to increase defence spending from where it currently is up to 2.5% when circumstances allow. It is worth reminding the House that we have consistently over the past decade been the second largest spender on defence in NATO – larger than 20 other countries combined. Our plans will continue to provide that leadership.
Within that, there is a very strong equipment plan, underpinned by the £24 billion extra that the Ministry of Defence received in its most recent settlement, which for the Royal Navy includes Type 26, Type 31 and Type 32 frigates. With regard to the specific vessels my right hon. Friend talks about, the Defence Secretary has asked the First Sea Lord to plan how the Royal Marines’ excellent work can be taken forward, so that they have the capabilities they need to continue their work and the ability to be deployed globally. When that process concludes, the Defence Secretary will of course update the House.]