Ministry of Defence

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:07 pm on 26th February 2018.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 8:07 pm, 26th February 2018

I am not giving way at the moment. As I have said, as has the Defence Secretary, the programme is not fiscally neutral. It allows us to expand and propose changes. It will assess the capabilities and the force structure we need to deal with the threats the UK faces. We will then consider the implications for funding.

When the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Defence Secretary met in December to confirm a way forward on the national security capability review and the defence modernisation programme, it was agreed that no changes would be made to our capability until the modernising defence programme was complete. With one eye on next year’s 2018-19 budget, I very much hope that that is still the case. The requirement for the defence modernisation programme is making sure that we understand the financial pressures affecting defence and looking into the future. If it is not the case, there would be no requirement for a defence modernisation programme. As the Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff for Military Capability told the Defence Committee last week, we are, unfortunately, seeing cuts to training exercises and

“a general suppression of some force generation across…frontline commands”

I stress that this is being managed without affecting prioritised units which are heading on operations, but if units are not training, it builds up a backlog of diminished capability.

Another issue raised in the Defence Committee last week related to the National Audit Office report on equipment, which cited a £20 billion deficit over the next 10 years. I make it clear that that makes some significant assumptions of risk, many of which will not be realised, and does not factor in the efficiency recommendations that the defence modernisation programme might make. Nevertheless—