The Prime Minister has emphasised the importance of the navy’s role and the government’s commitment to supporting military personnel during a visit to HMS Ark Royal.
David Cameron, who will attend the G8 Summit in Canada tomorrow, stopped off in Halifax, Novia Scotia, to visit the ship, which is taking part in an international fleet review later this month to mark the Canadian Navy’s centennial year.
Addressing the crew on the Ark Royal’s flight deck, Mr Cameron paid tribute to troops who have recently lost their lives in Afghanistan and said the entire nation recognised the “enormous debt” they owe the armed forces.
The PM said:
I am very aware that as the British Prime Minister, I can expect incredible things from you. Dedication, bravery, courage, service. I want to say what you can expect from me. There is this thing called the Military Covenant, written down, which is what the country offers you in return for what you offer us.
You do so much - you put your lives on the line, your safety on the line, and it is time for us to rewrite that Military Covenant, to make sure that we are doing everything we can for you and your families at home, whether it is the schools you send your children to, whether it is the healthcare that you can expect, whether it is the fact that there should be a dedicated military ward for anyone who gets injured or wounded in Afghanistan or elsewhere. I want all of these things refreshed and renewed and written down in a new Military Covenant that we write into the law of our land so we show how we stand up for our armed services.
Referring to 4 British soldiers who were killed in a road accident in Helmand Province on Wednesday evening, Mr Cameron said:
We have heard more bad news overnight about casualties in Afghanistan, and our hearts should go out to every one of those men and their families and the loved ones that they leave behind.
Mr Cameron will attend his first international summit since becoming Prime Minister when the G8 begins tomorrow. He will then join a wider group of world leaders for the G20 Summit at the weekend. The discussions are expected to focus on economic issues.
Speeches and transcripts: PM’s speech on board HMS Ark Royal.