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Volume 745: debated on Monday 19 February 2024

AUKUS partners continue to make good progress on the optimal pathway to deliver conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines to Australia and to develop the advanced capabilities required.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer. AUKUS is a bold project that rightfully identifies the greater need for co-operation in the Pacific between our great nations. However, I do not think that it should be limited just to defence. In my own report for the 1922 foreign affairs policy committee, we found that there is not only a need, but an appetite for wider scope—the inclusion of Canada, for example. Does my right hon. Friend agree that AUKUS cannot just be about defence policy. Will we be reaping the maximum benefits for Britain by consigning this to be just a defence procurement exercise? Where is the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office in all of this?

My hon. Friend is right to say that AUKUS can and should be a programme that extends beyond the three core nations—the UK, the US, and Australia—but that is very much a matter for pillar 2 arrangements rather than pillar 1, which the House will know is about the nuclear-powered submarine for Australia and the joint procurement. He will be pleased to hear that, in November, I was in the US signing up to a programme of pillar 2 work, which could ultimately extend to others, including Canada and New Zealand.