Armed Forces (Pensions and Benefits)

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 11:43 am on 8th March 2011.

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Photo of Nick Harvey Nick Harvey The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence 11:43 am, 8th March 2011

The hon. Gentleman makes the point that we are having to take measures now to eliminate the deficit that we would not have taken or needed to take if the deficit had not grown over seven or eight years in the first place. Nobody in Government is saying that the precise measures that we are taking now are those that got the country into deficit, but the fact is that between 2001 and the banking crisis, we ran a budget deficit, some of it during a boom period in which traditional Keynesian economics should have dictated that we run a budget surplus.

The Government are now being forced to take drastic measures to address the structural deficit, not on the logic that these are the specific issues that built up the structural deficit, but because we must deal in the art of the possible. None of us came into politics to cut armed forces numbers or delete military capability, but we are driven to do so now by the scale of the budget deficit. It is simply not fair to say that nobody said anything. Throughout the period, my right hon. Friend Vince Cable said that both personal debt and debt in the state’s coffers were mounting to the point of unsustainability and would sooner or later go pop. I do not claim to have been a soothsayer myself, but to say that nobody said it is simply inaccurate and untrue.