Dr Julian Lewis: What recent assessment has the Deputy Prime Minister made of the position of defence in the UK’s spending priorities.
[The Deputy Prime Minister: Our defence budget is the biggest in the EU and the second largest in NATO. This Government are spending 2% of GDP on defence this Parliament – we are o ne of only four NATO countries to do so.]
Dr Lewis: That was not exactly an answer to the question on the Order Paper. Given that this country for decades spent more than 4% on defence, does the Deputy Prime Minister not agree that it would be a disgraceful dereliction of duty if the British Government ever fell below the 2% minimum recommended by NATO?
[The Deputy Prime Minister: As my hon. Friend will know, we are spending 2% of GDP on defence, and have consistently met and exceeded this NATO guideline. We are spending more than £160 billion on equipment and equipment support over the next 10 years, which will ensure that we have one of the best trained and best equipped armed forces in the world. Decisions on defence spending after 2015-16 will, of course, have to be determined in the next comprehensive spending round.]