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Defence Spending

Volume 627: debated on Monday 10 July 2017

13. What estimate he has made of the level of defence spending required over the course of this Parliament. (900305)

18. What estimate he has made of the level of defence spending required over the course of this Parliament. (900311)

The Government have committed to meeting the NATO guideline to spend at least 2% of our GDP on defence until the end of this Parliament, and to increase spending by at least half a per cent ahead of inflation every year of this Parliament.

Is it not the case that we only need a growing defence budget if we are committed to leading in NATO, investing in our armed forces and giving them the equipment they need and maintaining our nuclear deterrent? Is it also not the case that this party is the only one that is committed to all three?

My hon. Friend is spot on. We are leading by example in NATO. We are the second biggest defence spender in the alliance—one of only six members spending 2%—and we are committed to investing £178 billion in equipment between 2016 and 2026. Our growing defence budget means more ships, more planes, more armoured vehicles and more cutting-edge equipment for our forces.

Will the Secretary of State join me in welcoming the Apache helicopter package worth £48 million to secure high-skilled jobs at Wattisham airfield in my constituency, and does he agree that that will help our armed forces to keep us safe, and that it is all due to a growing defence budget?

Yes, I was very pleased to announce this £48 million contract earlier this year, which will support jobs in my hon. Friend’s area and provide world-class Apache training for our personnel. The Apache is a vital part of the British Army’s fighting force and this investment is only possible thanks to a rising defence budget.

The UK was a central part of the European forces in Bosnia, Althea, and in the Mediterranean, Atalanta. Does this mean that the Government will be committing to remain part of such European forces in the future, after we have left the European Union?

That will become clearer after we leave, but we play an important part in Sophia, Althea and Atalanta not just because of our membership of the European Union but because it is in our national interest to help to deal with migration, to curb piracy off the horn of Africa and to help to stabilise the western Balkans.

15. The millions spent on technical innovation on bases around the UK is crucial, particularly on my own base of RAF Benson, where CAE is a big contributor. Does the Secretary of State agree with that and what will he do to continue it? (900307)

Yes, I do agree with that. That is why we have set aside a specific innovation fund to encourage more innovation in defence and to get more of our small and medium-sized businesses, of which I know there are a large number in and around my hon. Friend’s constituency, to help us find these cutting-edge solutions.