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Earl Attlee: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for giving way. Is the Treasury providing extra funding for current operations in Afghanistan?

Lord Drayson: Yes, my Lords. The amount is £1 billion over three years. I want to rattle quite rapidly through some of the issues that have been raised about equipment, not least because it is my area of
 
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responsibility. I hope to give noble Lords detailed answers to the many questions that they have asked, but I shall do so quickly.

We heard from the noble Lord, Lord Levene, an excellent summary of the challenges that we face in defence procurement. This Government are taking a modern approach to balancing the conflicting pressures which the noble Lord clearly explained. We need to recognise the international environment with which we are faced in the defence industry, and we need to make judgments within a framework which is clear to our international partners, to the defence industry and to our Armed Forces. This Government stated in the Defence Industrial Strategy White Paper last year that the Armed Forces' needs come first. There are questions relating to industrial capability, and jobs are very important to the country. But we are absolutely clear about the importance of equipment to our Armed Forces and so, in the decision-making framework, we put the Armed Forces first, and we have stated that as our policy.

A number of concerns were raised about the Snatch Land Rover in Iraq and its alternatives—the noble Lord, Lord De Mauley, referred to the question mark over the RG-31. The noble Lord, Lord Astor of Hever, said that he has received a number of letters about this. I make it absolutely clear that when I answered the noble Lord's question earlier, the vehicle that I was talking about was the predecessor to the RG-31. It was also called the Mamba and it has been called the Mamba mark 2. The RG-31 offered today is the current version of that vehicle. After giving careful consideration to the matter, we judged the size and mobility of the vehicle not to be appropriate to the needs of our Armed Forces today.

The noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, raised a point about the review being announced and said that surely these things are kept under constant review. That is absolutely the case. Issues relating to the protection of our Armed Forces, including the provision of armoured vehicles, are kept under continual review. That sounds like a trite and easy phrase but, as Minister for defence procurement, I can tell noble Lords that it is carried out very thoroughly indeed. The way in which the Ministry of Defence goes about deploying its resources for science and technology and industrial purposes to provide our forces with the appropriate levels of protection is very impressive. But I have to tell noble Lords that I cannot go into these things on the Floor of the House. They go to the heart of the level of the threat that our forces face. I do my best in this House to give your Lordships a clear exposition of these issues but there are some areas that we just cannot go into here. If noble Lords agree, I shall be happy to offer them a briefing at the Ministry of Defence to give them an opportunity to understand that better. We are taking urgent action relating to the threat facing our forces in a number of areas. That action is already having an impact today and we expect to see its effects.

The noble Lord, Lord Garden, and the noble Viscount, Lord Brookeborough, raised the issue of helicopters. In response to a question posed by the
 
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noble and gallant Lord, Lord Inge, relating to Lynx and Puma, last week we announced an agreement with AugustaWestland both to provide additional helicopters in the form of the future Lynx and, importantly, to incentivise the company to improve the serviceability and availability of the helicopters that we fly today. That is an example of this Government taking real action to address the issues. Here is a company that has been motivated, through the placing of a new contract for new helicopters which we have to buy, to improve the way that its services provide spares to our existing helicopter fleet, and that will go directly to the heart of the serviceability of our fleet.

I shall write to noble Lords with updates on other areas of equipment and shall give clear details of the progress on the FSTA and FRES. However, in the remaining time, I want to touch on the issue of Trident. As a number of noble Lords have highlighted, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has said that there will be a White Paper by the end of the year setting out the options relating to the potential replacement of the nuclear deterrent. The Ministry of Defence is actively working on those options, which will then be described to both Houses of Parliament; there will be an opportunity to debate them thoroughly. I am sure noble Lords will recognise the importance of decisions relating to the potential replacement of the nuclear deterrent and to the maritime industry.

The noble and gallant Lord, Lord Boyce, raised issues about the overall resource levels which were provided to our maritime fleet. I can confirm to the House that, this year, the resource levels have been restored to normal after a two-year period when resources were reprioritised for overseas operations.

My noble friend Lord Truscott asked what we are doing to build on those reforms, as regards our defence industrial strategy, in terms of research and technology. For the first time in a considerable period, we have increased the Ministry of Defence's research budget. We plan for it to rise in line with inflation over the next four years. We have also carried out a review of all of our defence research and technology and, later this year, we shall be announcing the results of that technology review.

The noble Lord, Lord Luke, asked a number of questions relating to defence housing. I shall write to the noble Lord with those answers, as I do not have time to go through them today.

In summary, our forces are busy. We recognise that and the significant challenges we face in ensuring that we respond to today's environment. We also face challenges on the pace of technological change in industry and ensuring that we provide our Armed Forces with the equipment that they need to do their job. We are addressing those challenges.

As we focus on these issues, I hope that we can build a consensus across the House because they are too important for party politics. Much can be learnt from the experiences of the past and I look forward to continuing this debate in the House. I am grateful to
 
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a number of noble Lords, in particular the noble and gallant Lords—former chiefs of staff—for sharing with me their wisdom and experience on these matters.

3.02 pm

Lord Inge: My Lords, I thank all noble Lords who have taken part in this important debate, which I have found educational. I have been struck by the number of issues raised by many Members. I hope the Minister listened very carefully, as a common theme ran through them.

On the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Owen, on the strategic direction of the war, I am not sure that I would want some great committee to be set up, but at least we should look at the strategic direction of the operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The linkage between the two is enormously important. I did not agree with the noble Lord, Lord Dykes. I certainly did not intend to give the impression that there is a crisis in morale. I was saying that there are indications about federations and unions and that we need to listen to what is being said. The morale of the Armed Forces, despite the huge pressure on them, is fantastic. I am second to none in saying, "Thank you", to them for what they do.

I believe that the Minister will write to noble Lords about the Defence Procurement Agency and the reorganisation that has been taking place in the Defence Logistics Organisation. They are two very important parts to ensuring that our Armed Forces have the kit and logistic support that they deserve. Referring to what I said earlier, I have an idea about what we are trying to achieve in Afghanistan, but I am not clear how we shall achieve that. That discussion is still to take place.

The noble Lord, Lord Garden, talked about federations. My noble and gallant friend Lord Boyce asked me to ask the noble Lord whether those who have federations and unions have ever won. My final point is that adequate funding is the ghost that hangs over all that has been said. I thank noble Lords for taking part and I beg leave to withdraw the Motion for Papers.

Motion for Papers, by leave, withdrawn.

Emissions Trading Scheme

3.05 pm

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): My Lords, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat a Statement made earlier in another place by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. The Statement is as follows:

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3.17 pm


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