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Armed Forces

Volume 496: debated on Wednesday 15 July 2009

Q7. Whether insuring against the threat of state-versus-state warfare remains a core role of the armed forces; and if he will make a statement. (286663)

Our armed forces are fundamental to counter state-led threats. That was made clear in our national security strategy update, which we published last month.

I am relieved to hear that. Before Iraq and Afghanistan, we were spending 2.5 per cent. of gross domestic product insuring against potential threats from other industrial countries. As we are still spending 2.5 per cent., despite the additional cost of the counter-insurgency campaign and including the contribution of the Treasury reserve, which of those two major military roles is currently underfunded? One of them must be.

I have to say to the hon. Gentleman that defence spending has continued to rise in real terms, in contrast to what happened in the last years of the Conservative Government. I have to say, also, that in addition to the defence budget we have put aside £14 billion for the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to tell the hon. Gentleman that our budget, in cash terms, is still the second largest in the world.

Order. I say to the hon. Gentleman that, as he will know, points of order come after statements.