Guardian – 27 November 2017
The cause of the funding crisis in Defence (report, 25 November) was clearly set out in the April 2016 report of the Defence Select Committee, “Shifting the Goalposts? Defence Expenditure and the 2 per cent Pledge”. It showed that:
- in 1963 spending on Defence and Welfare each accounted for 6 per cent of our GDP;
- in the mid-1980s, spending on Defence, Education and Health each accounted for 5 per cent of our GDP;
- we now spend six times on Welfare, two-and-a-half times on Education and nearly four times on Health, what we spend on Defence; and
- in 1995–96, several years after the end of the Cold War and the taking of the “peace dividend”, we still spent 3 per cent of GDP on Defence.
By barely achieving NATO’s 2 per cent minimum figure, we have dangerously downgraded the place of Defence in our list of national priorities. Setting ourselves a spending target of 3 per cent of GDP for Defence would not by itself guarantee our security, but without such an increase there is no prospect of recruiting personnel and buying equipment on a scale sufficient to avoid the “hollowing-out” of our armed forces.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Chairman, Defence Committee
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA