CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

FOREIGN AFFAIRS – SECURITY, DEFENCE & FOREIGN POLICY REVIEW – 30 January 2020

[Tobias Ellwood: … Finally, I turn to the Review that we will conduct. This is a pivotal moment for the UK to recognise and take stock of the threats that we face. We need a sober assessment of how the world is changing and an honest Review of our own capabilities. Our battle tank is 20 years old; it needs an upgrade. Our aircraft carriers are fantastic, but no further investment in the Navy means that the rest of the surface fleet has been depleted. In the Gulf War, we had 36 fast-jet squadrons; today we have six. We need confirmation of our capabilities and our aspirations. What role do we seek to play on the international stage? We then need to commit to what is needed to get there, which will require an increase in our Defence budget. We need to upgrade if we want to play that role.]

Dr Julian Lewis: May I warmly congratulate my right hon. Friend on succeeding me as Chair of the Defence Committee? I thank him belatedly for the courage he showed when, as a Defence Minister, he argued at the Dispatch Box that we needed to spend more on Defence. I urge him, in what I can assure him is an influential new role for him, to make sure that the new combined Defence Review takes place before, and not after, the Comprehensive Spending Round. Otherwise, the same thing will happen that happened with the National Security Capability Review, and there will be a fight between the Intelligence Services on the one hand and conventional forces on the other.

[Mr Ellwood: I am grateful for my right hon. Friend’s kind comments, and I look forward to a smooth handover. I have a lot to learn from him, and he has done a great job as Chair. He makes a valid point: if the Review is to be a fair assessment of our capabilities, we must ensure that it is not tied down by the limitations of any Budget. ... ]