New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis:  What recent discussions has the Secretary of State had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on future funding for his Department?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Gavin Williamson): I have regular discussions with the Chancellor. The modernising defence programme will ensure that our armed forces have the right capabilities to address ​evolving threats. The Government are committed to spending at least 2% of GDP on defence, and the defence budget will rise by at least 0.5% above inflation every year of this Parliament, taking it to almost £40 billion by 2021.]

Dr Lewis: I thank the Secretary of State for that helpful reply. Would he like to take this opportunity to endorse the suggestion by his immediate predecessor that we should aim to spend 2.5% of GDP on defence by the end of this Parliament? Does he agree that that would be a useful staging post on the road to the 3% that we really need? Finally, would the forthcoming NATO summit not be an excellent opportunity to announce any such advance?

[Mr Speaker: I thought the right hon. Gentleman was going to give us his usual mantra, “We need three to keep us free,” but it was incorporated in the gravamen of his question.

Gavin Williamson: I think my right hon. Friend is saving that for the next Defence questions.

We need to be looking at the threats that are starting to evolve right across the world, including in Europe. Those threats are increasing dramatically, and we have to ensure that we have the right capabilities to meet them. That is why we have the modernising defence programme to look in detail at how those threats are evolving, and why we are leading that analysis in the Ministry of Defence rather than any other part of Government. We want to come up with the solutions and answers to ensure that Britain and our allies are defended to the very best of our capability.]

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Dr Lewis: If we cannot protect our service personnel from the Northern Ireland campaign by a statute of limitations coupled with the truth recovery process, who is going to be next: the Falkland Islands veterans, or even the last few from the second world war?

[The Secretary of State for Defence (Gavin Williamson): As I touched upon earlier, it is clear that this House has a simple and clear view that we should always do everything we can to protect those who have served our country. We will look at all options to ensure that that is done.]