New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: I am very sympathetic to the case that the hon. Lady [Nia Griffith, Shadow Defence Secretary] is making, but the consequence of going down the route that she recommends, and which I am inclined to support, is that the black hole in the defence equipment budget will become even greater. If we accept that there needs to be an uplift in the defence budget to be able to make this sort of investment and get the long-term gains that she describes, will she confirm that her party’s policy is to support an increase in the defence budget?

[Nia Griffith: As I just outlined, it is extremely important that we take into account the way that the money can be brought back into the Treasury, and I very much hope that the right hon. Gentleman’s message will be well understood by Government Front Benchers. ...]

* * *

Dr Lewis: As an immoveable Defence Committee commitment means that I have to leave this debate for a period, though I hope to catch Mr Deputy Speaker’s eye later on, I would not like the Minister to sit down without knowing how much we on both sides of this House appreciate that he has been prepared to speak out as strongly as he has in favour of an increase in the defence budget. I hope that he will continue to press the Opposition to operate on a bipartisan basis in this way, because if we want to invest to keep shipyards open that might otherwise close, surely the logic is that the defence budget must increase.

[The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Tobias Ellwood): My right hon. Friend is very kind in his words. May I reciprocate by saying that he has done much work to keep this debate alive? ...]