Integrated Review: Publication

Defence – in the House of Commons on 7th December 2020.

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Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Labour, South Shields

When the Government plan to publish the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

What recent progress the Government have made on the publication of the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy.

Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)

When the Government plan to publish the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has announced the first outcome of the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, with the significant increase for defence funding of more than £24 billion over four years to enable modernisation of the armed forces. The full conclusion of the integrated review will be published, as I have said, early next year.

Photo of Emma Lewell-Buck Emma Lewell-Buck Labour, South Shields

I thank the Secretary of State for that response. An unaffordable and delayed equipment programme; a shortfall in personnel targets; plans to invest in space and cyber, and integration across all five operational domains, as well as a fall in defence spending since 2010 of more than £8 billion in real terms—the Government’s poor handling of our nation’s defence means that the review’s ambitions will not match the Secretary of State’s rhetoric, so when is he going to share with us what areas of defence will be scaled back or sacrificed in the review?

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence

I am sorry; I thought the hon. Lady was referring to the 2010 National Audit Office report on the Labour Government. It is a very good read; all those comments are in there, and it is remarkable that Labour has not learned the lessons. We have learned the lessons. We have looked at what we need to do, we have started with the threat, we are tailoring our response to our ambition, and, as a result, it is my intention that we will make the tough decisions to disinvest in equipment that was fit for previous encounters with adversaries and to invest in future equipment. But at the heart of it, as I have said from the beginning, the most important equipment of our armed forces is the men and women of them. That is why included in that is wraparound childcare, for example, to reflect the modern armed forces.

Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

In the Defence Committee, we have been able to look at the evolution of warfare and what that might mean for this country. Will the Secretary of State confirm that the integrated review will clearly lay out Britain’s position in the changing battle space?

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence

Yes. My hon. Friend is quite right to highlight the profound changes we are already seeing at home and abroad, and I thank the Committee for the work it has been doing on that issue. The integrated review will set out the UK’s global leadership, commitment to collective security and burden sharing, alongside defence’s historic settlement. It will enable us to prepare for this new and complex reality, including investing billions in combat air, shipbuilding, space, cyber and world-leading research.

Photo of Jack Dromey Jack Dromey Shadow Minister (Work and Pensions) (Pensions)

The four years capital programme is welcome, even if it conceals a real-terms cut in revenue spending. Right now, we have funding without a strategy, which is why it is essential that the integrated review be published as quickly as possible. Will the Secretary of State undertake that the capital spend will be spent on British industry to equip the British armed forces, creating tens of thousands of jobs in our defence, aerospace and maritime industries?

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace The Secretary of State for Defence

Can I be absolutely clear? While we recognise the figures of RDEL, or resource departmental expenditure limits, and CDEL, or capital departmental expenditure limits, over the four years, we absolutely do not recognise the interpretation by the Labour Front Bench of a real-terms cut in RDEL using the inflationary figures and depressors that they have already jumbled up. The simple fact is that this Government have made a record defence spending commitment and we will be investing it in people, their capabilities and their equipment. When it comes to equipment, the first thing is to ensure that we give our men and women the best to keep them alive and safe on a battlefield. I am confident, because Britain makes most of the best equipment in the world, that a large proportion of that will be British made and British secured.