UK Secretary discusses Falklands’ defence in Parliament
UK Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said on Monday that the British military presence in the Falklands has not increased recently since there was no recorded change to Argentine force levels, and there was no current or credible threat.
However the UK government was committed to the right of the Falkland Islanders to self-determination and was confident that there are sufficient assets in place to protect the Islands and ensure that right.
On Monday the Commons discussed the threat to the Falkland Islands with Defense secretary Hammond and said that despite speculation in the media there have been no changes as to the forces deployed in the zone and no plans for significant changes.
Hammond added that the British government “has no wish or intention of increasing or escalating the intensity” of debate with Argentina regarding the Falklands sovereignty.
His comments came as Conservative MP Amber Rudd asked whether Secretary Hammond was confident that the UK had sufficient naval assets in the area to prevent any naval attack.
The Defense Secretary replied that the UK was quite confident that it had sufficient naval assets in the area and the ability to reinforce those assets should there be any evidence of intent to any form of attack.
He said: Despite media speculation to the contrary, there has been no recent change to force levels. There is no evidence of any current credible military threat to the security of the Falkland Islands and therefore no current plan for significant changes to force deployments”.
However, her Majesty's Government is committed to defending the right of the Falkland islanders to self-determination and plans exist for rapid reinforcement of the land, sea and air forces in and around the islands, should any such threat appear.
Conservative Desmond Swayne said proper precautions were absolutely necessary.
Mr Hammond replied: It is absolutely necessary that our intentions are not capable of being misinterpreted. We have the strongest possible intention of defending the Falkland islanders' right to self-determination and the strongest intention to defend the islands.
Equally we have no desire or intention to increase the heat around this debate. We are not seeking to do actions which are provocative or cause unnecessary alarm. We will defend the Islands; nobody should be under any illusion about that, we will deploy the forces necessary.
Former Labour minister Denis MacShane (Rotherham) claimed Britain was in the weakest position in five centuries of naval history.
Mr Hammond responded that Mr MacShane had succumbed slightly to hyperbole, adding: The Government's position is very clear - its approach is to make quite clear to Argentina our intent to defend the Islands, to deploy necessary military forces to provide a credible defense of the Islands and to ensure that we are not placed in the invidious position of having to mount a long-range invasion to retake the Islands.