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MOD Expenditure: Official Development Assistance

Volume 727: debated on Monday 30 January 2023

4. What proportion of his Department’s expenditure in (a) Ukraine and (b) other countries he plans to classify as Official Development Assistance in (i) this and (ii) the next financial year. (903331)

In that case, I do not expect that the MOD will be taking any credit for the work that the conflict, stability and security fund does. The reality is that over the years, the Government have made a habit of double-counting spending to both the ODA target and the NATO 2% defence target—and of course the Home Office is busy raiding the ODA budget every chance it gets. Does that not do a disservice to what both the NATO 2% target and the ODA target are supposed to achieve?

The connection to the NATO target is somewhat tenuous, but there is a pattern to the hon. Gentleman’s questions. I think this is the fourth time he has asked this in oral questions, and he ask asked it in a number of written questions as well. I also think his point is principally aimed at colleagues in the Foreign Office and Treasury, but if he would like to meet MOD officials to discuss once and for all the MOD’s plans for the use of ODA, I would be very happy to facilitate such a meeting.

Speaking of budgets and Ukraine, may I invite the Minister to respond to comments from the United States—our closest security ally—which tally with the Defence Committee’s findings that the conflict in Ukraine has exposed serious shortfalls in the war-fighting capability of the British Army? This is not about the professionalism of individuals, units or formations; it is about overall combat strength and the equipment they use, as well as the ability to meet increasing demands caused by the deteriorating threat picture.

I am not sure that the United States has said anything about the official development assistance budget recently, but if you will indulge me, Mr Speaker, that is a wider point of news—[Interruption.] Thank you. Everybody is clear, and the Secretary of State has said many times—as have I and other ministerial colleagues —that serial underinvestment in the Army over decades has led to the point where the Army is in urgent need of recapitalisation. The Chancellor and the Prime Minister get that, and there is a Budget coming.