DEFENCE – INCREASING DEFENCE EXPENDITURE – 23 April 2018
Dr Julian Lewis: When the threat from Russia receded at the end of the cold war, we understandably cut our defence budget to 3% of gross domestic product. Given events – from Salisbury to Syria – demonstrating that, sadly, that threat is now reappearing, should we not seek to get back to that sort of level of defence expenditure, and will the Secretary of State lay that pertinent fact in front of the Chancellor of the Exchequer?
[The Secretary of State for Defence (Gavin Williamson): My right hon. Friend tries to tempt me. We have to be realistic about the fact that the threat picture is changing. It has escalated considerably since 2010 – even from 2015 – and we have to make sure that we have the right capabilities. That is why we are carrying out the modernising defence programme: to deliver the right types of capabilities for our armed forces to deal with the increasing threat that we face. We have to be realistic about the challenges – those posed by Russia are far greater than the challenges that were presented as an insurgency in Iraq and Afghanistan – and how we get the right mix of military equipment and capability to deal with that increased threat.]