– in the House of Lords at 7:15 pm on 14th March 2023.
The following Statement was made in the House of Commons on Monday 13 March.
“With permission, Madam Deputy Speaker, I will make a Statement on the 2023 integrated review refresh.
Two years ago, the Government’s integrated review set out a clear strategy on how the UK would continue to thrive in a far more competitive age. Our approach is the most comprehensive since the end of the Cold War. It laid out how we would bring together the combined might of every part of government to ensure that our country remains safe, prosperous and influential into the 2030s. The conclusions of that review have run as a golden strategic thread through all of our activities across defence and deterrence, diplomacy, trade and investment, intelligence, security, international development, and science and technology over the past two years.
Our overall analysis was right, and our strategic ambition is on track. On every continent of the world, the United Kingdom walks taller today than it has done for many years. We are meeting our obligations as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a leading European ally within an expanding NATO. We have strong relationships with our neighbours in Europe, and we will build on the Windsor Framework to invigorate those relationships even further. We are deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific and active in Africa, and enjoy thriving relationships with countries in the Middle East and the Gulf.
As I am sure this House recalls, today is Commonwealth Day, and I will be meeting my fellow Commonwealth Foreign Ministers in London over the course of the week.
We have maintained our position as a global leader on international development by pursuing patient, long-term partnerships tailored to the needs of our partner countries, and we succeed because those partnerships draw on the full range of UK strengths and expertise, in addition to our official development assistance. As this House will of course be aware, the severe global turbulence forecast in the 2021 integrated review has indeed come to pass, but events have moved at an even quicker pace than anyone could have imagined just two years ago. Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and attempts to annex part of its sovereign territory challenge the entire international order. Across the world, state threats have grown and systematic competition has intensified. There is a growing prospect of further deterioration in the coming years.
Due to the far-reaching consequences for the security and prosperity of the British people that these changes have brought, it is right that I update the House on what the Government are doing to respond. In our integrated review refresh 2023, we set out how we respond to an even more contested and volatile world. Rightly, our approach is an evolution, not a revolution. I know that the House will agree that our most pressing foreign policy priority is the threat that Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine poses for European security.
The UK has provided huge quantities of military support for Ukraine’s defence. We led the G7 response on Ukraine, co-ordinating diplomatic activity and working with our allies to impose the toughest ever sanctions on Putin’s Government. Thanks to the wisdom of this Government’s original integrated review, we have intensified our training for thousands of brave Ukrainian troops, who repelled Russia’s initial onslaught. That momentum must be maintained until Ukraine prevails and the wider threat that Russia and other states, such as Iran or North Korea, pose to the international order with their aggression or potential aggression is contained.
The 2023 integrated review refresh also sets out how the Government will approach the challenges presented by China. China’s size and significance connect it to almost every global issue, but we cannot be blind to the increasingly aggressive military and economic behaviour of the Chinese Communist Party, including stoking tensions across the Taiwan Strait and attempts to strong-arm partners, most recently Lithuania. We will increase our national security protections and ensure alignment with our core allies and a wider set of international partners. We must build on our own and our allies’ resilience to cyber threats, manipulation of information, economic instability and energy shocks so that we remain at the front of the race for technologies such as fusion power, which will define not only the next decade but the rest of this century.
My right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will say more on government spending commitments in his Budget Statement on Wednesday, but today I can set out a number of immediate and longer-term measures that will help us to deliver on our priorities. We will increase defence spending by a further £5 billion over the next two years. That will bring us to around 2.25% of national income and represents significant progress in meeting our long-term minimum defence spending target of 2.5% of GDP. Today’s announcement of £5 billion comes on top of the commitments made by the Chancellor in his Autumn Statement, on top of the £560 million of new investments last year, and on top of the record £20 billion uplift announced in 2020.
Later today, the Prime Minister will announce, alongside President Biden and Prime Minister Albanese, the next steps for AUKUS, including how we will deliver multibillion-pound conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarine capabilities to the Royal Australian Navy while setting the highest proliferation standards.
We will provide an additional £20 million uplift to the BBC World Service over the next two years, protecting all 42 World Service language services.
We have established a new directorate in the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, incorporating the government information cell, to increase our capacity to assess and counter hostile information manipulation by actors, including Russia and China, where it affects UK interests overseas.
We will double funding for Chinese expertise and capacities in government so that we have more Mandarin speakers and China experts. We will create a new £1 billion integrated security fund to deliver critical programmes at home and overseas on key priorities such as economic and cyber security, counterterrorism, and the battle to uphold and defend human rights.
We will establish a new national protective services authority located within MI5. It will provide UK businesses and other organisations with immediate access to expert security advice. A new £50 million economic deterrence initiative will strengthen sanctions enforcement and impact, and will give us new tools to respond to hostile acts. We will publish the UK’s first semiconductor strategy, which will grow our domestic industry for that vital technology, as well as an updated critical minerals strategy.
The 2023 integrated review reconfirms that the UK will play a leading role in upholding stability, security and the prosperity of our continent and the Euro-Atlantic as a whole. It underlines that this Government’s investment in our Indo-Pacific strategy is yielding significant results across defence, diplomacy and trade. Through those initiatives and many others that we have set out over the past two years, the United Kingdom will outcompete those who seek to destabilise the international order and undermine global stability. Our approach is imbued with a spirit of international co-operation and a pragmatic willingness to work with any country that does not seek to undermine our way of life.
We live in a competitive age, and the security challenges that the British people face today are the most serious in at least a generation. Time and again in our history, we have seen off the competition from countries that wish to do us no good. We were able to do so because the United Kingdom has always had more allies, and better allies, than any of our rivals or competitors. It will always be the policy of this Government to ensure that that remains the case. I commend the Statement to the House.”
My Lords, it has been a year since Labour urged the Government to revisit the integrated review, so yesterday’s announcement was overdue but is welcome. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has had a huge impact on European security. Of course, I add at this point that the Government have our fullest support in providing the military, economic and diplomatic support that Ukraine needs to defend itself.
The original integrated review did not really match the reality. The so-called Indo-Pacific tilt has apparently been completed, but the UK’s diplomatic presence in key countries in the region, including India and China, has been cut by up to 50% over the past eight years. The review promised to maintain the UK as one of the world’s leading development actors, but aid has not just been cut from 0.7% to 0.5% but is now being used to prop up the broken asylum system.
Britain is always a stronger and more effective force for good when we work with others. I am therefore pleased that the refresh recognises the need for changes to the multilateral system, specifically with reference to the UN Security Council and additional members. Do the Government also support wider reform for the Security Council, such as offering non-permanent members roles as deputy penholders?
It is also good to see the Government finally acknowledging the importance of our post-Brexit relationship with the EU on page 22. Labour would go further and seek a security pact to co-operate on global challenges and keep us safe.
The initiative to improve understanding of China in the Government is vital. We need a strong and consistent approach to China, working with partners and allies and engaging where it is in our interest.
I welcome the new economic deterrence unit to help enforce sanctions. I have raised this repeatedly in this Chamber, because sanctions without enforcement are useless. Yesterday, the Foreign Secretary was unable to tell the chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee why the Government have not been using frozen assets to assist Ukraine. Now that the EU has set out a plan to repurpose frozen assets, and Canada has passed laws to do so too, I urge the Minister to follow their example and repurpose Russian assets as part of the long-term recovery for Ukraine.
On Iran, the Government are also right to recognise the increasing threats, so it was disappointing that they opposed urging the creation of a new mechanism to proscribe hostile state actors such as the IRGC. In Beijing on Friday, we saw the announcement of the agreement between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In a joint statement, the three countries said the deal was part of a move by President Xi to secure good neighbourly relations between Iran and Saudi Arabia. What assessment have the Government made of this recent development?
In an era of disinformation, the BBC World Service is unique and an unparalleled platform, so additional funding is very welcome. However, on defence, yesterday’s announcement provides only funds for AUKUS and Ukraine replenishment. While that is welcome, it does not really answer the growing questions concerning capability gaps that weaken our national defence and undermine the UK’s NATO contribution. We have, of course, in the refresh, the long-term goal to spend 2.5% of GDP on defence. Can the Minister give a timetable for this?
Given that the paper refers to the importance of global food security and nutrition in international development, I hope the Government recognise the importance of support in Africa, where millions are suffering from terrible malnutrition and life-threatening hunger. I was in Kenya only a week ago and that was pretty evident. The current situation is driven by the region’s worst drought in 40 years, but worsened by the multitude of other factors, as the refresh highlights. Will there be any further announcements on funding to address this crisis?
The refresh makes no mention of the role of civil society. I hope the Government still recognise its importance in defending human rights.
In conclusion, as David Lammy said, now is the time for the Government fully to address the gaps between strategy and implementation; between rhetoric and reality.
My Lords, I too welcome the publication of the refresh of the integrated review. Since the initial publication we have seen the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which we believed warranted an immediate review of the integrated review, given the significance of the position of Afghanistan in the previous review, and because the thread throughout the review shows the domestic implications of the Russian aggression and the geopolitical considerations. It is a significant piece of work and I commend those who have put it together.
However, I have concerns about some of the rhetoric, which is not necessarily matched by some of the concrete actions the Government will be taking. The document is in some respects in stark contrast to the rhetoric of the Statement. It says that this is now the most comprehensive review since the end of the Cold War, combining the might of every part of government with an ambition that is “on track”. It states:
“On every continent of the world, the United Kingdom walks taller today than it has done for many years”.
If that is the case, I am not sure what the previous government integrated reviews were doing.
The Statement also says:
“We have maintained our position as a global leader on international development”.
That is jarring. The Minister knows, because I have asked him many Questions about this, that our reputation around the world has been significantly damaged by the Government’s catastrophic cutting of development partnership assistance. It has damaged our soft power reputation and reduced our capacity to respond to some of the significant implications of the Russian aggression. Some of those implications, which directly impact on the UK’s national security, have involved hunger and the weaponising of food and grain, which we know impacts us. We also know that there have been record amounts of internally displaced people in conflict areas around the world.
It is welcome that the Statement says that there will be a new £1 billion integrated security fund, but this will be only 75% the size of its predecessor, CSSF, which in 2020-21 was £1.26 billion, of which peacekeeping activity accounted for £376 million. This figure has now been reduced to £1 billion. I hope the Minister will be able to give more detail on what the integrated security fund will do and what role peacekeeping and peacebuilding will play. I declare an interest, in that I am involved with a number of peacebuilding charities. The previous CSSF scored over 50% on overseas development assistance. Is the same true of the new integrated security fund, or is it vulnerable to the 0.5% cap?
However, the Government are right—and here I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Collins—to take a wider view of Russian aggression and the increasingly apparent positioning of the Communist Party of China. I have raised on a number of occasions our unprecedented dependency on imported goods from China. There is not much detail on imports from China and trade in certain key sectors. I agree with the Government that having more resilience in key economic sectors, while maintaining diplomatic partnership with China, is important.
I hope the Minister will be able to give us more detail on technological competition, which I think is an issue worth pursuing. The integrated review refresh cites the multi-billion dollar US CHIPS and Science Act and the European Chips Act. In the future we are likely to see a technology and semiconductor strategy, but we have yet to see what legislative action will result from that. One element was the calling in of the ownership of Newport Wafer Fab. When the Government made that decision, I asked the noble Lord, Lord Callanan, then in BEIS, what implications that would have for other parts of the UK’s technology sector and key industries that could be vulnerable to Chinese intellectual property or strategic competition. He said that there were no wider consequences. I disagree. I understand that the semiconductor strategy will no longer be dealt with by the business department but will be a Cabinet Office responsibility. Will the Minister clarify who will own this strategy? Will it be co-ordinated through a national security committee or the Cabinet Office?
There are other areas where we will be moving away from dependency on imported goods from China. It is worth reminding the House that we have a trade deficit with China of just short of £40 billion. As the noble Lord, Lord Collins, indicated, there is also now the situation with Iran. The announcement of a £20 million uplift for the BBC World Service is welcome. Will that include a direct commitment to maintain the BBC Persian radio service? I have had correspondence with the BBC since the government announcement, and I am not clear whether BBC Persian will be sustained as part of the £20 million uplift. If the Minister could clarify that point, it would be very helpful.
I welcome that the FCDO will now have a government information cell, as the Statement says,
“to increase our capacity to assess and counter hostile information manipulation by … Russia and China”.
What will that be doing that is different from what was in place beforehand? The Government are now saying they will double funding for China expertise and capabilities. As I am a former member of the International Relations and Defence Select Committee of this House, I know the Government stated that they had already provided extra support and capability on China’s language and expertise, so what extra will we now have that we did not have before?
I welcome the economic deterrence initiative for strengthening the sanctions enforcement impact. What is the Government’s position with regard to seizing Russian assets that had previously simply been frozen? It may be part of the economic crime Bill and we will be looking at that, but over £18 billion of Russian assets are now frozen. What is the Government’s assessment of the total scale of how much we would be able to actively seize that would be able to be diverted towards support for the Ukrainian people?
My final point is that the Government have put insufficient focus on where the geopolitical consequences of Russian aggression have moved. It is not simply a European war; a second front has opened in the global south and the east. We know the Russian Government are using both the UK’s cuts for international development assistance—as well as, regrettably, the messaging over the Government’s new migration Bill—to act against UK interests. I hope the Minister will be able to satisfy me and others that, with regard to those who are seeking the UK as a place of asylum from conflict areas from which there are currently no safe and legal routes, we could use the basis of this integrated review refresh to increase the number of areas from where there are safe and legal routes, especially Iran. It makes no sense to me to have Iran singled out in an integrated review refresh—a refresh that is welcome—while at the same time denying a safe and legal route for those women, and young women in particular, who will see the UK as a refuge for asylum but for whom there is no safe and legal route, and for anyone coming from those conflict-afflicted areas, or those who are vulnerable to persecution within Iran, to be deported to a third country. I hope the Minister will be able to respond to these points.
My Lords, I welcome this opportunity to respond to questions following the Foreign Secretary’s Statement on the integrated review refresh yesterday. As noble Lords will be aware, the IR refresh is the culmination of work across government over recent months. The Government have engaged with Parliament, the devolved Governments, external experts and wider stakeholders with an interest in our nation’s security and prosperity. At a moment of evolving global challenges, this refresh demonstrates that the UK is agile and ready to respond to the geopolitical issues that we face. I thank the noble Lords, Lord Purvis and Lord Collins, for having made broadly the same point.
In 2021, the IR established a strong foundation for the UK’s overarching national security and international strategy. It took the right judgments to drive investment in collective defence and security; to increase emphasis on domestic resilience; to advocate a more activist problem- solving global posture; and to prioritise strength in science and technology. However, the review also identified that the world is becoming more contested and volatile, and those trends have clearly intensified over the last two years, with far-reaching consequences for the security and prosperity of the British people. From Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine to China’s growing economic coercion, the reality is that the world has become a more dangerous place. This update, IR 2023, sets out how the UK will meet that reality head on.
IR 2023 confirms that the UK’s most pressing national security and foreign policy priority in the short to medium term is to address the threat posed by Russia to European security, although I very much note the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, about the wider implications of Russia’s activities. Our new Russian strategy began evolving the moment that Russian troops crossed the border into Ukraine, waging an illegal assault on a sovereign nation and raising the spectre of war in Europe. The UK has provided huge quantities of military support for Ukraine’s defence, co-ordinating diplomatic activity and working with allies to impose the toughest ever sanctions on Putin’s Government. As we update our Russia strategy, our objective is to continue to contain and challenge Russia’s ability and intent to disrupt the security of the UK, the Euro-Atlantic and the wider international order.
China too, under the Chinese Communist Party, presents an epoch-defining challenge for the UK. It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and the second largest economy in the world, so it has an impact on almost every global issue of importance to the UK. Our approach must therefore be rooted in our national interest, co-ordinated with like-minded partners that are working with us to maintain an open and stable international order. We have already taken robust action to protect UK interests since the last review, such as new powers to protect our critical industries under the National Security and Investment Act, bolstering the security of our 5G network through the telecommunications Act and training more than 170 civil servants in Mandarin.
The refresh confirms that we will go further. We will double funding for a Government-wide China capabilities programme, including investing in Mandarin language training—in addition to the numbers that I just mentioned —as well as diplomatic networks and intelligence analysis. We will roll out a new college for national security curriculum to boost our capability across government. Yesterday it was announced that as part of the IR refresh we will take action to bolster the nation’s defences as well, with an immediate uplift in funding and a new ambition to increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP in the longer term.
The noble Lord, Lord Collins, asked for a timescale. I cannot give him a precise timescale, but I can say that we are committed to investing £5 billion over the next two years, which will help to replenish our ammunition stocks, modernise our nuclear enterprise and fund the next phase of the AUKUS partnership. As we face the most significant conflict in Europe since the end of World War II in an increasingly volatile world, we must ensure that our Armed Forces are ready for anything. We will maintain our leading position in the NATO alliance, with the new ambition, as has already been noted, to invest 2.5% of GDP in defence.
IR 2023 also sets out how we will step up work to protect the sectors, supply chains and technologies of strategic importance to the UK and our allies, with the new National Protective Security Authority providing a source of expertise and an interface between the Government and business. We will publish a new strategy on supply chains and imports, and we will refresh our delivery of the UK critical minerals strategy.
Our new semiconductor strategy, which the noble Lord, Lord Purvis, asked about, will set out plans to grow the UK semiconductor sector and improve the resilience of our supply chains at home and overseas. As has been noted, semiconductors are critical to the UK’s economic and national security and fundamental to many technologies—everything from fighter jets to ventilators. We need to build on the UK’s strategic advantage to secure supply and our future as a technical leader in areas like artificial intelligence, quantum and cyber. The strategy will focus on our existing strengths in R&D, intellectual property and design and compound semiconductors to grow the domestic sector. It will also increase the resilience of supply chains against disruption.
The new economic deterrence initiative will build upon our diplomatic and economic toolkit to respond to hostile acts by current and future aggressors. With initial funding of up to £50 million over the next two years, the initiative will improve our sanctions implementation and enforcement. This will maximise the impact of our trade, transport and financial sanctions by cracking down on sanctions evasion.
After the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific regions we are looking at our wider neighbourhood, those regions where developments have direct consequences for this country, from migration flows to transnational security threats. Our approach in Africa, for instance, will continue to be defined by a greater appreciation of the perspectives of partners across the continent, focusing on mutually beneficial development on security and defence but also on clean infrastructure and, increasingly importantly, on climate adaptation. We will host the next UK-Africa Investment Summit in April 2024, bringing countries together to strengthen those economic and trade links.
In Latin America, we are working with partners on a wide range of issues but with a particular focus on implementation of the GBF agreed in Montreal in December—on biodiversity, nature and tackling climate change. Alongside that, we are continuing to up our work on tackling organised crime. We would be supportive of Brazil joining the UN Security Council as a permanent member, as well as India, Japan and Germany. Development remains at the heart of our foreign policy.
The UK is a leading global aid donor, notwithstanding the cuts we have debated many times. The noble Lord knows I wish to see a return to 0.7% as soon as possible. Notwithstanding that, we have a reputation for being effective and generous; we have spent more than £11 billion on international development assistance since 2021, including on tackling climate change and a whole range of other issues, not least girls’ education and global health. We remain committed to saving lives, to protecting the world’s poorest. We continue to prioritise development in our thinking. That was recently exemplified by the Minister for Development becoming a permanent member of the National Security Council.
The noble Lord, Lord Purvis, raised a number of other issues, which I am going to tackle now before I move on. One of them was in relation to the BBC World Service. We will provide £20 million of additional funding to the service over the next two years. I think I am answering his question in saying that that will protect all 42 World Service language services, as well as supporting English language broadcasting and the ongoing counter-disinformation programme.
As in the original IR, climate is at the heart of our thematic priorities. It is essential that the UK transitions away from fossil fuels here if we are to meet our net-zero targets. At COP 27, we set out our intention to make the UK a clean energy superpower. The UK has already cut emissions faster than any G20 country, with renewable sources such as wind and solar now making up more than 40% of our supply—a fourfold increase in just 10 years. The UK was also the first major economy to sign net-zero emissions by 2050 into law. Just last month, we created a new Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. We tasked it with securing that long-term energy security and supply, bringing down bills and halving inflation.
IR 2023 reinforces the argument for even more investment in the UK science and tech ecosystem while we continue to manage the risks from rapid technological change. We will increase our resilience for the long term by surging investment into these areas. That is why we are committing to spending £20 billion a year on R&D by 2024-25 and why we have reorganised government to enable better focus and dynamism in an area that is critical for our future prosperity and security. Two years ago, we sent a clear message about what the UK stands for as an independent actor on the global stage. We committed to work with our allies and partners to shape an open, stable international order. Today, in a more geopolitically contested and less safe world, the IR refresh ensures that we continue that success as we continue to prioritise the British people’s way of life.
My Lords, an effective strategy requires a sensible balance between ends, ways and means. The integrated review refresh is certainly better than its predecessor on ends and ways. I welcome the sharper focus on Europe and the Russian threat and the more coherent and robust approach to China. Unfortunately, the refresh fails signally when it comes to means. Does the Minister recall that as recently as 2010, we were spending 2.6% of GDP on defence? Given the accounting changes that have occurred since then, that probably equates to something like 2.8% in our present terms. The integrated review refresh is saying, in essence, that we face a more dangerous world than we have seen for many a year, and the Government’s response is a vague aspiration to increase our defence expenditure at some indeterminate point in the future to a level still well below that which we had in 2010. Could he have a go at explaining the logic behind that?
My Lords, it is not true that these are vague aspirations. I think I said in response to the noble Lord, Lord Collins, that we are committed to investing £5 billion over the next two years to replenish our ammunition stocks, modernise our nuclear enterprise and fund the next phase of the AUKUS partnership. We are committed to spending at least 2.5% of GDP in the longer term. As I said, I cannot provide a precise timeline on that, but there is pretty clear evidence of our intent in the commitments that have been quantified and given a timeline.
My Lords, I welcome the Statement, but like others, I am slightly concerned about the gap between the rhetoric and the reality. Successive Governments have had a habit of defining success by financial input. Of the extra £5 billion, which I welcome, £3 billion is for nuclear—it is probably already held in the Treasury contingency and simply being drawn forward—and £2 billion is simply replacing munitions we have given to Ukraine. It is widely accepted that defence needs £11 billion just to stand still. That is a £6 billion deficit, meaning that there will have to be cuts. The reason why it is so important to know when we will meet 2.5% is that, without knowing that date, we do not know what needs to be cut and when. That is why we need an answer on that.
I declare my interest as a serving member of the Army. In pillar 2—“Deter, defend and compete across all domains” —paragraph 24 has the aspiration that with our military presence in the Baltics, we may be able to surge to a brigade; that is some 5,000 people. Ten years ago, we had 10,000 soldiers in Afghanistan. Twenty years ago, we had a division of 20,000 in Iraq. Yet now, we may be able to surge to a brigade in the Baltic states. If that does not underline to my noble friend the Minister the perilous state of our Armed Forces right now without adequate financial investment, I do not know what does.
On the financial commitment, I will just clarify that the extra £5 billion for defence is in addition to the overall spending powers set out in the Autumn Statement and was agreed with the Chancellor as part of the wider Spring Budget plans. It is not recycled finance. In 2020, the Ministry of Defence received what I believe was the largest sustained spending increase since the end of the Cold War: a £24 billion uplift in cash terms. I think the noble Lord asked whether or not some of the money being spent in Ukraine was part of that. The extra funding that was provided at the Budget—and I will correct the record if I am wrong—will be in addition to the £2.3 billion of military support we have already committed to provide to Ukraine in 2023, matching what we spent last year.
My Lords, I too welcome the integrated review and note that paragraph 28 on page 28 confirms the Government’s commitment to the fourth overarching priority of the 2022 international development strategy, which includes supporting global health. The Minister will be aware, as I know his department is, that drug resistance poses an increasingly significant and global threat to tackling global health risks of all kinds, including TB, malaria and HIV. So, while we await the global health framework refresh for the detail of the Government’s support for global health, can the Minister confirm that it will include commitments both to restore the cut in funding to Unitaid of nearly £250 million and to follow our G7 allies—the US, Japan and Germany—and pay in full the 29% increase in funding that the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria called for, which will mean, in our case, making up a shortfall of £800 million?
My Lords, first, I simply reiterate that the IDS—the international development strategy—remains our overall strategy, and that does not change. But the changing global context means we need to go further and faster on certain elements of it, not least international development, and we are supercharging that IDS. I cannot answer the question in relation to the spending commitments. I am afraid I am going to have to put that to colleagues in the FCDO, in whose portfolio that sits. But I strongly agree with the noble Lord’s comments about the threat of drug resistance. This is probably the greatest health threat we face today. We take our eye off that very immediate, very grave threat at our peril. I will make sure that his remarks are heard by colleagues in the department. I also believe that on a domestic scale we should be investing in protecting ourselves—insulating ourselves as much as possible against the threat of drug resistance here in the UK as we reach the end of the pipeline of existing antibiotics, partly as a consequence of our abuse of them.
My Lords, this paper is a great improvement on its predecessor. I agree with the comments of my noble friend Lord Collins and the remarks of the noble Lord, Lord Purvis. What I fear is that, although it recognises that Russia is the main immediate threat we face, as the noble and gallant Lord, Lord Stirrup, says, it does not do sufficient to make sure that we can actually face that threat.
Is it not the case that what we need within the NATO alliance today is a massive programme of European rearmament to deter Russian aggression? Is it not also the case that, of the £5 billion that has been awarded in this defence review, £3 billion will be spent, as it says in the document, on nuclear capabilities and the AUKUS submarines—not on conventional defence? Are we really satisfied that we are doing enough? Does the Minister accept that deterring Russia for us, as a medium-sized European power, must be the top priority?
Not only do I agree that it is a short and medium-term top priority but I think that is reflected squarely in this document. How the additional money is spent is, as noble Lords know, for the MoD to prioritise. Whereas we are a medium-power European economy, we invest more in our Armed Forces than almost any other country in the world. We are a top investor.
Notwithstanding that, we are only as good as our partnerships with allies and friends around the world. The UK has been at the forefront of rallying a consensus against Russia’s illegal attack on Ukraine, with some considerable success, in addition to the direct support we have provided to Ukraine’s defence. The UK has stepped up. I do not think we could be accused of underestimating or underplaying the threat posed by Russia. The UK will continue to prioritise this issue.
My Lords, the Statement says that we
“enjoy thriving relationships with countries in the middle east and the Gulf.”—[
This Statement came out just after the Times reported that there had been 11 executions in eight days in Saudi Arabia, among them that of Hussein Abo al-Kheir, the 57 year-old Jordanian father of eight. A UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention had called for his release and said his case lacked “a legal basis”. It is reported that a UK Minister met the Saudi Government the day before the execution to call for it not to take place. I also note that in Bahrain it was reported yesterday that four people have been arrested over tweets, including tweets backing reform to its parliamentary system. This is in the context of an Inter-Parliamentary Union meeting that is going to be in Bahrain. It has also revoked entry visas for two Human Rights Watch staff. Does the Minister really think that this would describe a “thriving relationship” that meets the Government’s stated intentions of supporting human rights around the world?
I have a second question that is perhaps more to the Minister’s taste. I am sure he has noticed that the word “climate” does not appear anywhere in this Statement. Does he agree that, if we are looking at the refresh of the integrated review, the extreme events of the climate emergency over the last two years surely should have seen a focus on the even more pressing nature of that issue?
My Lords, the noble Baroness is right that a Foreign Office Minister made representations before the execution took place. I think it would be wrong to exaggerate the power we have as a country; we cannot command countries not to take decisions of the sort that Saudi Arabia took, but it is right that Foreign Office Ministers made representations. We will always continue to do so. It is a long-standing policy that we oppose the death penalty.
We use every opportunity we can to promote the values we hold dear: freedom of speech, freedom of religion and democracy. I do not think anyone questions our commitment to those values. Equally, we work with countries all around the world that do not share all those values. If we were to work only with countries whose values aligned entirely with ours, we would be pretty isolated on the world stage. It is right that we should have a constructive relationship. We are working closely, for instance, with the UAE as it makes preparations for COP 28. We will be a very strong partner to ensure that all the commitments secured at previous COPs are followed through and strengthened at COP 28, which is being hosted by the UAE.
On climate change, the noble Baroness is right, but this is a refresh. It is an additional document, almost an appendix to the IR, and does not replace it. Although there are many ways in which the threat of our abusive relationship with the natural world can be seen to have increased over the last two years—or at least our understanding of the threat has—the emphasis in the IR on the need to prioritise global environmental protection, restoration and tackling climate change was pretty much front and centre. Therefore, by definition, it remains front and centre. The refresh does nothing to diminish that commitment.
My Lords, can the Minister make a clarification? In his answer to my question, he said that the Government had a firm commitment to increase defence expenditure to 2.5% of GDP. The integrated review refresh says it is an aspiration. I would be very pleased indeed if the Minister were able to say that his remarks were the accurate statement of the Government’s position.
I think what I said was that the firm commitment related to the £5 billion over the next two years. Did I use the term commitment in regard to the 2.5%?
In that case, it is a goal. The language that has been used is that it is a goal to get to 2.5%, but the commitment I was referring to is the £5 billion over the next two years.
My Lords, there are a number of questions that the Minister did not answer. I hope he can get his department to write to us and give the answers to the questions we had, particularly from the Front Bench.
I feel I have been hurling answers across the Chamber, but clearly I have not answered all the questions. I will go through Hansard, and ask officials to do so as well, to make sure that any unanswered questions are answered.