Ben Wallace: Speech to Conservative Party Conference


Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace, speaking
today at Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, said:


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afternoon, as a Lancashire MP it is so nice to be here in Manchester at the heart
of the North West. A region whose contribution to the wealth, science and
innovation of the Nation is unrivalled. A region who builds our ships,
submarines and aircraft to keep our nation safe.

fact North West aerospace industries have a combined turnover of £7bn and
export all over the world.

wasn’t for nothing that Mr Rolls met Mr Royce 115 years ago in the Midland
Hotel. The pursuit of excellence is what our defence companies do which is why
we rely on them to supply our armed forces.

defence anchored in engineering excellence. A partnership that supports jobs
and skills up and down the spine of our United Kingdom. Spreading prosperity
and creating wealth.

was delighted in July to have been appointed Secretary of State for Defence. It
is a great privilege to

in charge of a department that has within it so many amazing men and women
whose “can do attitude” and dedication to duty ensures we can sleep soundly at

a former soldier myself it feels like home. Now I have to admit that when I
served I was not the highest of flyers. I was not always in the good books.
Indeed I was often in receipt of numerous extra guard duties for one
transgression or another.

I wouldn’t have missed my years in uniform for the world. The comradery, the
sense of purpose and the experiences equipped me for life. And yes we faced
danger and saw things no one should have to see but we did it together and we
did it because deep down we believed in the values of this great country.

values haven’t changed. Our belief in freedom, the rule of law, tolerance and
democracy. Our armed forces are the vanguard of those values.

are the most important equipment of all and It is our duty as politicians to
honour them with honesty and clear leadership.

too many decades politicians have had greater ambitions than they were prepared
to fund. Funding

were dealt with not by doing less but by hollowing out often leaving our forces
over stretched, over spent or both.

September the Prime Minister and Chancellor recognised the importance of
defence by putting their money where their mouth was. The record £2.2 billion
settlement means we can properly deliver both the investment into our people
and into our future capability.

the new funding we will invest in better accommodation, childcare and career
pathways for our Armed Forces personnel and we can ensure that we don’t over
stretch and run down our equipment. It is why, as the new Shipbuilding tsar, I
was able to confirm the order for five British made, Type 31 frigates this

Defence Secretary I am determined to meet these 21st century challenges by
delivering reform. It is vital that the UK delivers an up to date defence
capability that allows us to not only defend ourselves but to also ensure we
play a leading role in shaping the globe, supporting our Allies and protecting
the rules based system.

of what defence does is often unseen. Over the horizon or deep under the
oceans.  But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. It does. In the 21st
century securing the nation is no easy task. The threats ranged against us come
from far and wide. From terrorists, from aggressor states and natural

security is threatened in different domains – land, sea, space, cyber, air. Day
and night. Winter and

 Our adversaries constantly look for new means of attack.  In the 21
years since I left the Army war fighting has changed beyond recognition.
Drones, the internet, satellites and artificial intelligence all pose deadly
challenges. Much of what we do overseas, such us the fight against ISIL, is
designed to keep our streets safe here at home.

last week, on the eastern reaches of Ukraine I observed the separatist trenches
at first hand. But our friends in Ukraine are not alone. Our Army are there
too. Training and advising. Making sure Russian efforts to undermine the
international rule of law that we all live by are not successful. 

at home our troops are ready and able to help mitigate the consequences of
terrorism or floods as we saw only this year. In fact our armed forces always
stand ready to contribute to that most vital of duties of Government –

Ministry of Defence I lead is lucky to have an excellent team – Mark Lancaster,
Baroness Goldie, Anne–Marie Trevelyan, Johnny Mercer and Leo Docherty. That
means there are four Ministers who have served in the Armed Forces working in
the department. Unprecedented I am sure.

let us take a moment to contrast our team with Labour… A leader and shadow
chancellor who have spent more time honouring dead terrorists than British
Veterans. A leader who when my soldiers and I were fighting the IRA was sipping
tea with them. And a Labour Party who would shut down our defence industries
out of a misguided ideological crusade. As ever playing politics with people’s

Brexit,  Britain will want to spread her wings to new markets and new
territories.  We will want to strengthen our international links. For
example the Five Eyes eyes nations – the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and
UK already trust and share the same values.

defence we must embrace them even more. Helping each other – from the Arctic to
the Pacific. 

must be Global Britain’s “tip of the spear” and “spine of our nation.” It must
be modern and potent. It must be ready and able. I am determined to make sure
it will be.”