The Times – 21 September 2016
Further to your report “NATO has no plan if Russia invades, warns ex-general” (Sept 19, and letters, Sept 20), if NATO deterrence is to continue working, defence spending must rise significantly. The Defence Committee’s second report of 2015-16 set out the long-term decline in defence expenditure compared with other high-spending departments.
In the mid-1960s, defence was overtaken by welfare spending, which is now six times its size. In the 1980s, broadly similar sums were invested in defence, education and health. We now spend 2.5 times on education and nearly four times on health what we spend on defence.
The 1980s marked the last time this country faced a threatening Russia as well as a major terrorist campaign. From the start of the decade until the conclusion of the 1987 intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty, the UK invested between 4.3 per cent and 5.1 per cent of GDP on defence.
It is a measure of how low our expectations have fallen that we are supposed to celebrate just managing to meet the NATO minimum of 2 per cent in our most recent budgeting.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Chairman, Defence Committee
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA