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Defence Spending — [Mr Clive Betts in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 10:01 am on 16th July 2019.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee 10:01 am, 16th July 2019

I had better not, because of time pressure.

Secondly, to coincide with the debate, the Defence Committee has updated its April 2016 report, “Shifting the Goalposts? Defence Expenditure and the 2% pledge”, in which we set defence spending in context. We showed that, while we spent similar amounts on education, defence and health in the mid-1980s, we now spend 2.5 times more on education than defence, and 4 times more on health.

Our latest report, which was published today—HC 2527, for those who are interested—has recalculated the figures for the last few years and brought them up to date. It shows that, in the last three years, we have spent 2.1% on defence, if we calculate it from NATO’s point of view and bring in extra things such as war pensions, which never used to count towards the total. If we exclude them, the new report shows that our like-for-like defence spending is only 1.8%. Is that credible in an age when the profile of the threats we face includes an adversarial Russia and the revival of a terrorist threat in the form of Islamist terrorism? When we compare it with the 1980s, when we regularly spent 4.5% compared with 1.8%, or 5% compared with 2.1%, we can see the shortfall.