Bob questions the PM about the despicable terrorist attack in Algeria

Mr Bob Ainsworth (Coventry North East) (Lab): The Prime Minister is right to use this tragedy to make people aware of the growing threat from the region. He is also right to say that the best response is a regional-led response, but do we have the capacity to have a proper input across the range in this area? The Foreign Office’s headline cuts were a lot bigger once the responsibilities for the BBC had been transferred. We need a diplomatic, political, security and developmental response to this kind of situation if the threat is to be removed, which can only happen over time.

The Prime Minister: The right hon. Gentleman asks a central question. I would say yes, there is the capacity, for two good reasons. First, I believe we are more effectively co-ordinating what we have. The National Security Council means that we have the Development Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Foreign Secretary and the Defence Secretary, with their budgets, sitting round the table, which makes it more possible to use that money—including through the conflict pool—to come to terms with the challenges we face. Secondly, we have taken some difficult decisions on defence, but as a result we have reduced the amount of unfunded commitments and our budget is now, as it were, in balance for the future. We can afford the very important capabilities that include heavy lift—vital for the sorts of things we are doing with the French—air-to-air refuelling and those sorts of capacities, which will be so important for the future. (Hansard, 21 January 2013)


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