Defence Expenditure (NATO Target) Bill

Part of Prayers – in the House of Commons at 2:25 pm on 9 January 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Shadow Minister (Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs) 2:25, 9 January 2015

The UK already exceeds the 2% target for defence expenditure. At the moment, we are one of the very few countries that meets its target. Obviously, it was on the agenda at the NATO summit in Cardiff, at which the allies agreed to aim to move towards the existing NATO guidelines of spending 2% of GDP within a decade. They also agreed that those countries that were already spending the minimum of 2% would aim to continue to do so. That is the international framework. The matter is now back on the political agenda after the global economic crisis slightly knocked it off course, with many countries being forced to make defence cuts.

Labour believes that the right time and place to take decisions on the future role, shape and capabilities of the UK’s armed forces will be in the next strategic defence and security review, which will take place in the next Parliament. We were concerned that the last SDSR was very much a Treasury-led exercise. It left the country with an aircraft carrier without any aircraft or maritime patrol capabilities. It is imperative that the next SDSR is strategically led and fiscally responsible. It cannot be just a Treasury-led exercise. Its fundamental starting point should be what we want our armed forces to do.

I wish to allow the Minister at least a couple of minutes on his feet, so I will conclude on that point.