Ukraine Update

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Baroness Goldie
Monday 5th September 2022

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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That is a very important question. As the noble Lord will be aware, we do not have Royal Navy deployment in the Black Sea, but I understand that we have been amenable to providing training on countermine measures and have offered support to Turkey if Turkey would find that helpful. As the noble Lord will be aware, Turkey has deployed the Montreux convention and therefore there is very restricted activity. However, I reassure the noble Lord that if help is required by Turkey and advice and help are sought from the UK, we will look at that very sympathetically.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, first, I thank the Minister for repeating the Statement. Secondly, I was delighted by the supportive stance taken by the noble Lords, Lord Coaker and Lord Newby. I think it is right that in his final day of office the Prime Minister should be acknowledged for his robust support and swift response to Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and his leadership of the western world in the strong and continued response and resistance to the Russian invasion. Can the Minister tell the House how effective she thinks the sanctions on the Russian regime are? Are they effective or not?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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We understand that the sanctions imposed by the UK and our international partners are having deep and damaging consequences for Putin’s ability to wage war. We have sanctioned more than 1,100 individuals and 100 entities and, with our allies, have frozen around £275 billion-worth of assets. That includes oligarchs worth £117 billion. We have also announced new sanctions on Kremlin-imposed officials in the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics. Russia’s GDP is expected to contract by 3.5% to 8.5% in 2022, but that is compared to a pre-invasion forecast of 2.8% growth. By 2026, Russia’s economy is expected to be 16% smaller versus the pre-invasion trend estimated by the International Monetary Fund. There is evidence that it is hitting Putin hard. Much more problematic is to know whether the message is reaching ordinary Russian people. There is evidence to suggest that, sadly, they are now beginning to experience the hardship of the consequences of Putin’s illegal war. It may be that with that, coupled with the tragic deaths of and injuries to the loved ones and relatives of many people and families in Russia, they may now be beginning to pose the question: what is this about and why are we doing it?

Royal Navy: Ships and Frigates

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Baroness Goldie
Thursday 14th October 2021

(2 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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Of course everyone in the United Kingdom knows that there is a climate emergency, not least the Ministers of this Government. It is evident from the measures being brought forward how seriously we take that challenge. Modern engineering technology is greatly contributing to more efficient use of fuel and reducing emissions. In relation to the defence estate, which is massive, I have seen at first hand some of the excellent measures now being taken to optimise our contribution to improving the environment.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, it is very good to see that the Government are investing in national shipbuilding infrastructure, but we know that it will still be important to ensure best value for money through the highest levels of productivity. Does my noble friend see value in aligning these programmes with those of allies and partners who have similar shipbuilding ambitions? In addition to Canada and Australia, which have bought the Type 26 design, Japan’s naval shipbuilding programme has many similarities to the UK’s. Are the Government looking to build such synergies?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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We always keep a weather eye on what our friends and allies are doing. Our first responsibility in securing this nation is to ensure that we have these capabilities for production within the UK. My noble friend makes an important point, and it is one that we are alert to.

HMS “Queen Elizabeth”

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Baroness Goldie
Wednesday 4th November 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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As I indicated to the noble Lord, I cannot comment on where the “Queen Elizabeth” is going, how she is going to get there or what route she will take. All of that will be unfolded to Parliament in due course. But the noble Lord makes an important point about the purpose of our military and naval capability. Certainly, I want to reassure him that HMS “Queen Elizabeth” will operate as part of a maritime task group, which will include allies and will be tailored to meet the required task. The destinations and precise number and mix of vessels deployed will depend on the operational circumstances in 2021.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, the deployment of HMS “Queen Elizabeth” to the South China Sea would show that Britain is prepared to make a contribution to the protection of freedom of navigation through the South China Sea, which is vital to protect rules-based free trade in the region. Does the Minister agree that our involvement in naval operations in Asia necessitates not only an increase in joint exercises with friendly nations, such as Japan, but deeper co-operation in procurement? Would she also agree that this strengthens the case to pursue opportunities to collaborate where such countries have similar requirements?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I say to my noble friend that he is correct that the UK has enduring interests in the Indo-Pacific and south-east Asian regions. That is without prejudice to what the “Queen Elizabeth” may or may not do. But he is also correct to identify that we are committed to maintaining regional security, and we are certainly committed to asserting rights to freedom of navigation and overflight, as laid out in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. We continue to challenge any coastal nation’s excessive maritime claims.

Armed Forces Personnel from Commonwealth Countries

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Baroness Goldie
Tuesday 20th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I thank the noble Lord for his kind remarks—he perhaps attributes to me greater powers than I actually possess. He is right to emphasise the significance of the issue, and I reassure him that I do not have to reiterate that to the department. There is active work under way, and I hope that something positive will emerge from that.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, does my noble friend not agree that, as an interim measure, Commonwealth service personnel should be granted exemption from visa fees and immigration controls for a grace period of, perhaps, two years after leaving the service, so that they may seek employment, claim benefits and register with a GP?

Fleet Solid Support Ships

Debate between Viscount Trenchard and Baroness Goldie
Wednesday 7th October 2020

(3 years, 7 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I feel slightly wounded by the noble Lord’s charge; I shall try not to take it personally. Of course, there was disappointment at the paucity of interest when the contract was originally put out. I think that it is now recognised that there were perhaps reasons for that. An internal review then carried out by the Royal Navy was helpful in ascertaining exactly what the role of the fleet support ships was to be and what they were meant to do, particularly in relation to the carrier strike group. Based on that review, we were able to make informed decisions as to the approach that best represents what we need to make a success of that support role. As he may be aware, the prior information notice, which set out the details being sought, indicated that there is a revised design for the ships. I am pleased to say that, in response to that notice, there has been a very healthy level of interest.

Viscount Trenchard Portrait Viscount Trenchard (Con)
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My Lords, will the Minister confirm that in the new support ships programme the overriding priority will be best value for the UK defence budget? Might this involve giving orders to consortia, including British and foreign companies working together? Has the impact of any delay in delivery of new ships beyond the end of the service life of Royal Fleet Auxiliary “Fort Victoria” been costed?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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We are aware of the scheduled end of service for “Fort Victoria”, which is in 2028. We are satisfied that we can make the necessary arrangements to continue the support which will be required. On delay, as my noble friend will be aware, the National Audit Office has made it clear that it is too early to say what impact stopping the original competition process might have on the entry into service of the fleet solid support ships. We will seek to mitigate any delay, and we shall certainly assess—as we are currently doing—the interest of those parties which have responded to the prior information notice process. We hope to proceed to make further information available to Parliament on the procurement strategy.