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MS4: Falklands Announcement
#11
Madam Speaker,

From parody to farce to parody of a farce, the government’s behaviour in this matter has been a display of absurdity that is wholly unbecoming of the people commissioned by Her Majesty to discharge the duties of governance in the United Kingdom. I have sat in this House and listened carefully as ministers have scrambled to get their stories straight, watched as the Prime Minister has absolved himself of any responsibility by staying notable in his absence, and looked on with horror as strategic military policy has been turned on its head in a matter of days.

It is useful, I think, to understand whence this crisis came. The government decided, in its wisdom, to send three Royal Navy frigates to the waters of the Falkland Islands. As I have repeated time and time again and received no assurances to the contrary, Britain currently possesses only 23 frigates, half of which will be in planned maintenance at any given time and the remaining 11 or 12 of which report between 82% and 86% average operational availability. In a worst case scenario, three frigates therefore represents a third of the navy’s entire available capacity: I have yet to receive assurances to the contrary.

The cost of operating these vessels in the South Atlantic ocean will be £1.35 million for every month that they are stationed there. The diplomatic costs have been clear, as effigies of former Prime Ministers were burned on the streets of Buenos Aires. Still, we can get no straight answers from the government: we were told that the Navy was sent to defend civilian vessels undertaking commercial oil and mineral exploration. When was the government made aware of the plans to map the seafloor and on what basis did it make the decision to send in a Naval convoy of escorts? Why were three ships of the same class sent, instead of a more rounded tactical taskforce? How many ships exactly are we defending - I have been told no more than three, but that leaves open the possibility of two, one or none.

The entire story reeks of fabrication. Then we hear, after less than a month at sea, that the government is now considering scaling back its commitment to the Falklands all over again.

So to sum up, they sent a third of the Navy’s available frigates to the south Atlantic sea to protect vessels that may or may not be there, which were only there for a month and which apparently no longer need defending so the sailors can come home. Am I the only one in this House wondering what on Earth is going on?
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#12
Madam Speaker,

Let me make it crystal clear. This government will protect our citizens our businesses, our industry and our economy. By mapping the sea floor for resources we are undertaking a responsible task of knowing what resources are available in our sovereign waters for the purpose of future growth. This government has put to sea the very best of our Royal Navy to ensure the security of this task and no matter of consternation from the benches opposite can deter the optimism and hope for success we have. Now if this government determines that current conditions do not require the presence of aspects of the security arrangement for this commercial activity than it is well within the prerogative rights to make adjustments as necessary. It is not shocking that some on the benches opposite choose to turn this into a hyperbolic tussle rather than making measure comment. Such behaviour is becoming common place by the opposition and unfortunately a hallmark of politics in our present era. 

I do believe that no matter how many times I give the information requested to this house the opposition would still find some reason to be upset and howl with desperation. Bottom line British lives must be protected and an operation to see what resources are available in our sovereign waters must not be infringed upon thus providing security is clearly within our rights.
Defence, Energy, Trade Secretary 1994-
 Westminster North
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#13
Madam Speaker,

Will I ever get an answer from anyone on the Government front bench about whether this Government consulted with the Government of the United States on this matter?
Max Power, Labour
MP for Oxford East (1987-present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary (1994-present)
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#14
Madam Speaker,

The Falklands is sovereign British territory. Does the United States consult with us when they send naval ships to Guam or American Samoa? While we strongly value the special relationship between the United Kingdom and United States we are more than capable of ensuring the constant defence of our citizens, our commercial interests and our economy.
Defence, Energy, Trade Secretary 1994-
 Westminster North
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#15
Madam Speaker,

The difference is, when America sends its navy to Guam or American Samoa, that does not cause the risk of a backlash in nearby countries. And, the last time we had a clash with Argentina, we relied on American help to prevail. Given the current size of our navy, we cannot act like this is the late Victorian era with a navy that dominated the seas. Realistically, we need to show some respect to our American friends. It is alarming to me that the Right Honorable Gentleman does not understand this.
Max Power, Labour
MP for Oxford East (1987-present)
Shadow Foreign Secretary (1994-present)
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#16
Madam Speaker

I would encourage the next time the honourable gentleman attends the last night of the summer proms I would encourage him to linger on the words of the timeless classic Rule Britannia a bit longer. We have challenges yes but if we can learn anything from Thatcher it would be that we are more than capable of defending ourselves. Nevertheless it is touching to me that Labour seems to care so much about the Falklands and ensuring our citizens remain safe while helping us to understand what resources may be available in the sea floor. 

It is because of our alliances forged by tireless civil servants through the course of our Isles history that we are able to have such assurance in knowing if our military should ever need it they will be backed up fully and completely. As we speak the situation in the Falklands continues to quiet and grow peaceful. It is our hope and our desire to see mapping operations conclude at the end of next year in a way that emphasizes the highest standard of peace and security.
Defence, Energy, Trade Secretary 1994-
 Westminster North
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#17
Madam Speaker,

What I am hearing but that isn't being said is that there wasn't a clear direct threat to these commercial ships, but rather a perceived one. If I may quote another Labour Opposition leader from the past, "I think he is wrong. I think the Government which he represents and for which he speaks is wrong. I think the verdict of history will be that they are wrong." If the right honourable gentleman had come here and said the Falklands or these vessels were under imminent threat, I do not care for which party he speaks; I would be with him. If this is so, let him say so. Yes, and we would carry forward, not for Labour sake or for Tory sake, but for the sake of the United Kingdom. But he has not persuaded us that it was. If we were in danger, we would have no complaint. But surely even he must see that it appears to many of us on this side of the House that committing ship sand then quickly pulling them away once the Argentinians reacted in anger shows that there has been a lack of planning and a lack of understanding about the situation.

If he could show us that the Argentinians were in offensive posture, I would have no complaints. But what we are hearing is that we have over-committed naval resources where no risk existed and without speaking to one of our longest allies. What harm is there in international cooperation? There is none. So then let us ask this question, have there been any diplomatic communications with the Argentinians so as to limit their concerns that our actions were defensive only in nature?
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#18
Madam Speaker,

It is always the practise of this government to seek to alleviate concerns and consternation’s of foreign governments whenever and wherever practical. In regards to the comments by the shadow leader I am inclined to pushback ever so gently in that a withdrawal of ships would not be done as a surrender of duty in protecting our citizens but would be done after ensuring the balance of peace would remain with or without our ships. By sending protection for our commercial vessels participating in this activity we kept a strong commitment ever visible to the international community as a whole that we are committed to the full defence of our citizens and our sovereign territory.

Sometimes decisions must be made while in government that are in the best interests of the wider picture in this instance ensuring that the act of mapping ones own resources whilst controversial to some nations would remain undisturbed while wholly completed in our sovereign possession. Governance requires foresight and accounting for the potential for problems to occur even if unlikely and moreover it involves making adjustments when it can be determined the balance of peace will be unaffected by changes to the original measure of security.

It should be widely apparent to this house that I stand fully behind the hard working service members of the Royal Navy in once again demonstrating their commitment to the safety of our citizens and the total defence of our sovereignty. The opposition leaders eloquence while compelling unfortunately does not lend itself well to perspective gained by governance. In governance obligations transcend merely electoral politics but instead must take into account the balance of lives and prosperity both present and future. While the opposition can wax poetic about their aims and how they would do things differently we in government have not this same luxury. Governance and spectating are entirely different professions with entirely different constituencies.
Defence, Energy, Trade Secretary 1994-
 Westminster North
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