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Covid-19: Deployment of Military Personnel

Volume 676: debated on Wednesday 3 June 2020

6. What discussions he has had with the Welsh Government on the deployment of military personnel to Wales in response to the covid-19 outbreak. (902991)

I regularly discuss with the Welsh Government the vital role of the UK’s armed forces in supporting Wales in its fight against covid-19. Whether it is getting personal protective equipment to those who need it, establishing testing sites or driving and decontaminating ambulances, the response of our servicemen and women is testament to how strong we are as members of the United Kingdom.

I thank the Secretary of State for that answer. Our armed forces have been active in all corners of the United Kingdom during this crisis. We see this particularly clearly in my own constituency, where the Royal Air Force’s transport fleet is based. Would the Secretary of State agree that in the dedication and reach of our armed forces we see the perfect illustration of what our family of nations, this Union, can achieve?

My hon. Friend makes a really good point really well. There are so many examples of where this is the case. In Wales alone, the armed forces have done one fifth of our ambulance shifts and decontaminated more than 2,000 ambulances, without seeking praise, reward or recognition; it is just part of what the armed forces do, and they do it in a fantastically clear, brave and professional manner. The idea that that service could be provided in a broken-up United Kingdom is a complete fantasy. I wish that some of the separatist noises we occasionally hear in the Chamber would recognise that.

There can be no doubt about the importance of the military in terms of supporting the people of Wales during the pandemic, so can I press the Secretary of State to do all he can, in his discussions with the Secretary of State for Defence, to ensure that the base in Brecon is kept in Wales?

Indeed, the military footprint, as it is called, is incredibly important for lots of reasons, economic reasons being high amongst them. I have regular conversations with the various brigadiers and individuals based in Brecon and elsewhere across Wales, and they are as enthusiastic about the hon. Gentleman’s comments as I am. It is a shared ambition to ensure that we deliver on our military footprint.