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Strategic Defence and Security Review

Volume 593: debated on Monday 23 February 2015

The Government’s priority remains the delivery of the 2010 strategic defence and security review. The next SDSR will not begin until after the election.

Does the Secretary of State agree that all the major parties in the coming election should commit to a real-terms increase in the defence budget and to the 2% NATO target, because only in that way can we hope to keep our nation safe in an increasingly hostile and menacing world?

Since the 2010 SDSR, our planning assumption has been that real growth in the defence budget, with 1% growth on equipment, is required to deliver the highly capable and adaptable armed forces that we set out in Future Force 2020. The scale of our current operations in Kabul, the middle east and Sierra Leone underline the value of the flexibility that we encouraged in that review. So far as the future is concerned, we are spending £34 billion this year; we will be spending £34 billion next year. It is time we heard from Labour whether it will match that spending or whether it plans to cut it.

I congratulate the Defence Secretary on highlighting the real and present danger posed by Mr Putin’s Russia to the stability of Europe and the threat posed by ISIL. Does he agree that it would be folly for the United Kingdom to cut its defence expenditure below the minimum requirement of 2% that NATO has set?

I am grateful to my hon. Friend. I have set out our planning assumptions for the current defence budget, but I still think we ought to hear exactly what the Opposition’s plan is. Are they going to match our £34 billion a year, or are they going to cut it? Is it match or cut? [Interruption.]

Not very statesmanlike. Mr Jones, you aspire to be a statesman. I have sought to encourage and nurture your ambitions. [Interruption.] No, he says from a sedentary position. Don’t be so unambitious, man, for goodness’ sake.