Aldershot MP Gerald Howarth joins the opposition front bench this week.

Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith has appointed him as Opposition Spokesman on Defence.

"I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed to this important post where I shall be working closely with Shadow Defence Secretary, Bernard Jenkin," said Mr Howarth.

"Given the importance of defence to the Aldershot constituency, which includes the Aldershot Garrison itself, the Royal Engineers base at Gibraltar Barracks at Minley and the headquarters of BAE Systems, the world's second largest defence contractor, my new responsibilities will dovetail in well with my constituency responsibilities.

"In the aftermath of the events of Sept 11, defence has become very important in terms of national political priorities with the country facing real threats from international terrorism and rogue states."

Meanwhile Mr Howarth has been rejoicing over the news that he and many other patriots can keep the flag flying on their cars.

He endorsed the government's U-turn on the controversial Euro plan to fine anyone putting a Union Jack on their car number plate after the cut-off date of last September.

Mr Howarth has the Union Jack front and back on both family cars.

"The minister told me they are going to change the regulations before Parliament and in the meantime, he does not expect police authorities to take any action."

Before the U-turn, police could have prosecuted motorists and offenders faced a fine of up to £1000.

Now car owners will be able to display not only the Union flag, but the Cross of St George, the Scottish saltire or the Welsh dragon on their number plates. "It is very good news," said Mr Howarth.