By Ray Fleming

W HEN the Flag Ship of the Royal Navy, HMS Albion, visited Palma last week it was surprising to learn that on her return to Britain she will be mothballed and taken out of service. In a Viewpoint on Sunday Jason Moore said it was possible she will never sail again under the white ensign and he drew attention to the fact that defence cuts will leave the Navy with just a handful of ships.

A report published yesterday by the parliamentary Defence Select Committee showed that the reduction in Britain's military capacity is not confined to the Royal Navy. It said the committee was “not convinced” by ministers' claims that Britain can cut its defence capabilities while maintaining its current global influence. James Arbuthnot, the Conservative chairman of the cross-party committee, put it very plainly when he said that there must be doubts “whether the armed forces will be able to undertake all that is being asked of them by 2015”.

The Strategic Defence and Security review last autumn was rushed and put predetermined economies before strategy. Perhaps that was necessary in some degree but what cannot be accepted is the way in which ministers continue to pretend that no serious damage has been done to Britain ‘s military capability, as Nick Harvey, the Armed Forces minister, did again yesterday. They are evading the facts.


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