Reserve Forces

Mark made the following contributions in a Westminster Hall debate tabled by Philip Hollobone MP on Reserve Forces. 

Mark Field: I would like to echo the words of the hon. Member for Bridgend (Mrs Moon).It is very positive that the Government have recognised the great danger of cyber-attacks not only in the military sphere, but in the commercial sphere. Given that the Bank of England has been so robust about the importance of resilience and the potential gaps in that respect in the commercial sphere, does my hon. Friend agree that Ministers should look again at having a reinsurance package in the cyber area, rather like what Pool Re provides in the terrorist area?

Mr Hollobone: My right hon. Friend makes an extremely good point. He represents the City of London, and we need to tap into the pool of talent that exists in our capital city in insurance and IT. We need to do whatever it takes to get the computer experts from the big international banks in the City of London, if necessary, to work in the interests of Britain’s defence. I know my right hon. Friend will be leading the charge to make sure that the Government are aware not only of the threat of cyber-warfare, but of the opportunities offered by the pool of talent in our great city to meet that challenge.

Mark Field: On a budgetary point, while the commitment to additional spending within what we might call the defence budget is obviously welcome, does my hon. Friend share my view that we need to be a little cannier about the way in which we utilise the soft power that comes with the 0.7% in the Department for International Development budget for a whole range of areas, such as community cohesion in foreign lands? We can utilise elements of that budget for precisely this sort of element of the reservist side. Even if we cannot commit ourselves, as many of us would like to, to a 2% or even higher percentage of GDP for defence, at least elements of what would traditionally be the defence budget can come through the important soft power of DFID.

Mr Hollobone: My right hon. Friend makes an extremely good point. I am all for maximising the military component—that is a clumsy phrase—of our defence spending. Using our soft power budget legitimately to enhance our hard power capability is fine. I am all for, for example, sending armed forces personnel on aid programmes in other countries to become familiar with the language, culture and how those countries work, because that will help our hard power defence effort.