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Baroness Blackstone: I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. He must have misunderstood what I said if he implies that each case stands on its merits. My question was about standby forces and what the UK Government will consider committing to standby forces. That is not a matter of considering each case on its merits. I accept that the Government may not
Lord Henley: My Lords, I am sorry if I misunderstood the point behind the noble Baroness's remarks. I shall take them up and possibly write to her on that matter. I was trying to show to the noble Baroness--and I am sure that she will be the first to agree with me--that we have a very fine record of supporting UN operations. Those 7,000 or 8,000 men and women speak very much for themselves.
To all those men and women, whether in the Army, Navy or Air Force, we owe a great deal. It is right that on behalf of Her Majesty's Government I should place on record what we owe them. At the same time, knowing the concerns expressed by the noble and gallant Lord and by the soldiers, sailors and airmen themselves following both Options for Change and the defence costs study Front Line First--there have been legitimate concerns about their future--it is right that I should repeat the assurances given both by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and my right honourable friend the Prime Minister that the big upheavals in the Armed Forces are now over. The Armed Forces are now of an optimum size for today's uncertain world and there will be no new cuts to our front line capability.
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