Democracy goes on


Book Reviewer
Link to Defence debate held in Commons on 7 July:

Extract from Secretary of State's opening remarks:
In a sense, what has happened today reminds us of the terrible dangers that our servicemen and women face as they act in the service of the country. Even as we attempt to cope with the situation here at home in London, thousands of our service personnel are deployed across the world. They are helping to improve lives, deliver security and ensure peace, and they display the professionalism, courage and selflessness that continue to inspire the people of this country. On my own behalf, and I hope on behalf of the whole House, I want to place on record my personal gratitude to, and admiration for, those serving in the British armed forces across the world. On a day when we are expressing our thanks to the emergency services here, I want to thank them for the job that they do.

Only a few weeks ago, I saw that work in Iraq. There, British troops are playing an essential role—amidst the same awful and terrible dangers that appear to have afflicted us today—in reconstructing the Iraqi security forces and that country's civil society. We should be proud—and we are—of the outstanding job that our forces have done in Iraq, as elsewhere. In those dangerous circumstances, they have made an immense contribution to improving the lives of millions of Iraqis, enhancing their security, and providing them with the opportunities that we have taken for granted for so long—to vote and to have better access to clean water, health care and education.

The 65,000 UK service personnel have made that happen. Rightly, they deserve our gratitude, but I also want to place on record our appreciation of the support given by their families back home. They deserve our heartfelt gratitude as well.

Our servicemen and women, and their families, have demonstrated the same bravery and determination to get the job done as did those who served in previous decades, including in world war two. This week is veterans week, and so this debate is timely. I know that the House will wish to join me in paying the warmest of personal tributes to those men and women who served their country in the second world war, and since.


To all who have served, are serving or are due to be posted to serve in Iraq - well done and thank you.

Lee Shaver

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