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Defence Spending

Volume 749: debated on Wednesday 1 May 2024

2. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the level of defence spending in Scotland. (902548)

14. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the level of defence spending in Scotland. (902561)

Scotland Office Ministers have regular discussions with the Ministry of Defence on all matters relating to defence. Defence spending contributes significantly to delivering thousands of high-skilled jobs and investment in Scotland. I welcome the announcement by the Prime Minister that we will increase our defence spending to 2.5% of GDP in response to rising global threats.

Clearly it is good news for the United Kingdom, and Scotland in particular, that 2.5% of GDP will be spent on defence. Will my right hon. Friend update the House on the number of jobs that will be protected and potentially be created in Scotland as a result of this decision?

The short answer is that the increased investment announced by the Prime Minister will be focused on firing up the UK industrial base. The whole United Kingdom will benefit from that, and it will ensure that our armed benefit from the latest technology. Both of those things will bring economic benefits and support jobs across the whole of the United Kingdom, including Scotland. At this time of heightened global tension and an illegal war in Ukraine, sparked by the Russians, I am confident that Scotland will play a growing role, as the UK Government ramp up their spending.

Thanks to the armed forces parliamentary scheme, I have been lucky enough to meet some of the amazing military personnel and civilians working at His Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde. Will my right hon. Friend confirm that the increase in defence spending announced last week by the Prime Minister will bring benefits across the whole country, whether at RAF bases in my own constituency or at the many military establishments in Scotland, and that it is another clear demonstration that it is the Conservatives who can be trusted to defend and protect our entire United Kingdom?

My hon. Friend is absolutely correct. It is the Conservatives who are trusted to defend the whole of the United Kingdom. The SNP has consistently proposed abandoning our nuclear deterrent, including in its most recent independence paper. The irony is that the SNP wants to be part of the NATO alliance, but not part of a nuclear NATO alliance.

A vital part of defence spending is ensuring that military personnel live in safe and suitable accommodation. At last week’s debate on the Renters (Reform) Bill, my hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Helen Morgan) ensured concessions from the Government on the standards of military accommodation. What assessment has the Secretary of State made of that in Scotland?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. As the father of a serving soldier, I completely agree with her. I hear from members of the military that they are disappointed with the standard of accommodation. I have raised the issue on a UK-wide basis and discussed it with the Defence Secretary. He said the programme of improvements, which started before last winter, amounts to £400 million of spending.

Further to the Secretary of State’s comments about nuclear bases, I hope he is aware of the alarming rise in more serious nuclear safety incidents at Scotland’s Trident nuclear bases on the Clyde. My questions have revealed 179 incidents were logged in 2023 and 2024, including six with a risk of radiation leakage to the environment, the first category A incidents in 15 years. Has he concerns if there was a radioactive leak beyond safe levels in many of these incidents? What reports will his Government produce to reassure crew and those living nearby that the nuclear infrastructure is not, as one former Downing Street adviser described it, “dangerously rotting”?

I have visited Faslane, our base on the Clyde. It is an absolutely fantastic facility. We do not comment on matters relating to Faslane. If the hon. Lady has any more specific questions, she should ask them at Defence questions, but regarding our nuclear deterrent and our nuclear facility, we do not comment on things that happen there.