The Times — 17 March 2022
In July 2019 the Defence Select Committee published a special report (HC 2527) updating an earlier analysis of UK defence expenditure, as a percentage of GDP, since the mid-1950s. It confirmed that, according to traditional Ministry of Defence accounting criteria, the UK figure declined to 1.9 per cent in 2014-15, and then 1.8 per cent for each of the following three years. Only the adoption of more generous NATO accounting criteria by the MoD in 2015-16 restored the figures to just above the NATO minimum requirement of 2 per cent. On this basis, we are now investing 2.3 per cent after a recent increase.
Yet, applying the changed criteria retrospectively, the report showed that 5.5 per cent of GDP was spent on defence in 1984-85 (4.5 per cent under the old accounting system). Despite taking the “peace dividend” after the Berlin Wall fell, we were still spending 3 per cent on defence as late as 1996-97. Now that Putin’s aggression has resurrected the Cold War it is time to restore defence to its proper place in our national priorities. Next week’s Spring Statement by the Chancellor would be a good place to start.
Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
Chairman, Defence Committee 2015–19
House of Commons
London SW1A 0AA