On a point of order, Mr Speaker. In the exchanges earlier about Afghanistan, reference was made to the three soldiers who have died since last Thursday. I believe it appropriate that the House also remembers the others who have died in the past few years. They are: Guardsman Jamie Shadrake, 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, aged 20, from Wrexham; Lance Corporal Matthew David Smith, Corps of Royal Engineers, aged 26, from Aldershot; Lieutenant Andrew Robert Chesterman, 3rd Battalion the Rifles, aged 26, from Guildford; Warrant Officer Class 2 Leonard Perran Thomas, Royal Corps of Signals, from Cardiff; Craig Andrew Roderick, 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards, aged 22; Guardsman Apete Saunikalou Ratumaiyale Tuisovurua—
Order. It is with some reluctance that I interrupt the hon. Gentleman, but he will understand that I cannot know how long is the list that he plans to read out. I want to say politely to him—because he deserves this response—that I have not forgotten the exchange that he and I had on, I think, the first or second day back in September, when he raised with me his view that there should be a formal oral recording, periodically, of lives lost, and asked me to look into the matter. I said that I would, and I am doing so, and I think it wise to proceed on the basis of consultation. I intend to speak very soon to the Leader of the House, the shadow Leader of the House and various others about the matter, and then to revert to the hon. Gentleman. I intend him absolutely no discourtesy, and naturally I intend no discourtesy to the deceased whose names he was planning to read out, and I hope that in return he will do me the courtesy of allowing me briefly but properly to reflect on how to take this matter forward. If he would be good enough to leave it there for the day, his generosity of spirit would once again have got the better of him.
You will recall, Mr Speaker, that I have in the past read out the names of the 179 men and women who died in the Iraq war and the names of more than 200 of those who have died in the Afghan war. By a deliberate decision, this is now banned in the House, and the only protest that I can make against that attempt to disregard and show a lack of respect for the fallen is to continue reading out this list, until we reach an obvious conclusion—
Order. Would the hon. Gentleman be good enough to take his seat? I note what he has said, but I say to him and the House that I intend no discourtesy to anybody. In all fairness, we cannot make policy on the hoof. I understand his impatience for what he regards as a satisfactory resolution of this matter, and I hope that such a resolution, in whatever form, can be achieved. Meanwhile, however, we have to operate in accordance with some norms and practices, one of which is acceptance of the decisions of the Chair. I was happy to let him proceed for a short period and to read out some names, and he has done that, but it would not be right today to have a long list read out, without regard to what decision the House might reach. I shall reflect and consult on the matter, and I undertake to him, in full view of the House, to return to him and the House very soon. I hope that that is fair for today.
I accept that ruling.
I am extremely grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his forbearance and courtesy.
Statement by Minister.
More should die to protect Politicians' reputation. The only reason for our not following the example of Canada and Holland is to spin an exit that can be presented as a victory for politicians. Already hundreds have died because of the culpable optimism of politicians. Hammond is positive about sending more soldiers to their deaths to justify past deaths. Soldier lions led by political donkeys.
There has been no terrorist threat to the UK from Afghanistan since the El Quaeda were expelled 8 years ago.
Congratulations to the Minister, who is saying that there is no way we can allow our soldiers to risk their lives when there is no British interest involved. That is the situation since al-Qaeda was defeated in Afghanistan. When our soldiers are killed by their allies, it is not warfare, but murder. We should take the decision to bring our troops home, as the Canadian and Dutch Parliaments have—their troops have been home for two years. The French are going home early, as are the New Zealanders. There is absolutely no reason why we should not do what the country wants and bring our brave soldiers home by Christmas.
There are lots of reasons why we should not and could not bring our brave soldiers home by Christmas. We have a legacy in Afghanistan, and it has been won at a great cost. Four hundred and thirty British service personnel have given their lives, and we intend to protect that legacy—[Interruption.] We intend to protect that legacy by ensuring that the UK’s national security interests are protected in future by training and mentoring the Afghan national security forces to take over the role we are currently playing—[Interruption.]