Defence Spending

– in the House of Commons am 12:40 pm ar 24 Ebrill 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence 12:40, 24 Ebrill 2024

With permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement updating the House on the Government’s commitment to increase defence spending to 2.5% this decade.

In my speech at Lancaster House in January, I warned that we were entering a much more dangerous period in the world and I made the case for a national conversation about defence spending. Since then, Putin has stepped up his attacks on Ukraine, China is increasingly assertive, and tensions have escalated in the middle east culminating in Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel 10 days ago conducted in parallel with the proxies Iran has nourished around Israel’s border in the middle east, including of course the Houthis who continue to hold global trade hostage in the Red sea.

Since January, the world has become even more dangerous, not less, and we continue to ask more of our courageous and professional armed forces. Our sailors have served under constant risk of attack in the Red sea, helping to protect international shipping and our own cost of living. We have bolstered our Royal Air Force presence in the middle east, enabling Typhoon crews to intercept Iranian drones and missiles recently fired towards Israel. And around 20,000 of our personnel from all three of our services, with a huge inventory of naval, air, and land assets, have been active around Europe as part of the largest NATO training exercise since the cold war. In short, we increasingly need our armed forces, and we increasingly are asking more of them.

So yesterday the Prime Minister committed to hit spending 2.5% of GDP for defence by 2030. It means we will invest an additional £75 billion into defence over the next six years, and that will be funded in full without any increases in either borrowing or debt. This represents the biggest strengthening of our national defence in a generation and, as the NATO Secretary-General said yesterday, it will ensure the UK remains by far the largest European defence spender in NATO, and it means we are the second biggest NATO spender overall.

It will provide a very significant boost for UK defence science, innovation and manufacturing. It will make our defence industries more resilient and bigger. And it will mean we are able to restock some of the global supplies required in order to continue to ensure that we are both able to provide our own armed forces and those in Ukraine and be a competitive export sector. We also recognise the important role defence plays in our national resilience by developing a new plan that for the first time brings together the civil and military planning for how we would respond to the most severe risks that our country faces.

Our additional £75 billion on defence is also enabling us to ramp up that support for Ukraine. Members on both sides of the House will share the Government’s concern about the warnings President Zelensky has been issuing, and his most senior generals have confirmed that their the ability to match Russian force is increasingly difficult. So, as NATO partners, we are looking at each other to see that leadership.

The UK Government have stepped forward: we are providing the alliance with the decisive leadership demanded in this knife-edge moment of this existential war. This week we have committed an extra £500 million of military aid to Ukraine for this year, bringing our total package to £3 billion. In fact, our total since Putin’s full-scale invasion is now more than £12.5 billion, £7.5 billion of which is in military aid.

In addition, we have provided NATO partners with leadership by delving even deeper into our own military inventory, to give Ukraine our largest package of equipment and support to date. The support announced this week includes: millions of rounds of ammunition; 1,600 key munitions, including air defence and precision long-range missiles; over 400 armoured, protected and all-terrain vehicles; support with logistics to support and bolster the frontlines; support to get the F-16 pilots who have trained in the UK into the air as soon as possible; and a further 60 boats to help Ukraine strengthen its remarkable grip over the Black sea, including offshore raiding craft and dive boats.

Our £75 billion defence investment will help Ukraine get back on to the front foot. Coupled with the reforms that we have introduced to make procurement faster and more effective, it will put our defence industrial base on a war footing. It will fire up the UK’s defence industry with an additional £10 billion over the next decade for munitions production. That will bring our total spend on munitions to about £25 billion over the same period.

We are delivering for those who serve to guarantee our freedoms as well, with over £4 billion to be invested in upgrading accommodation to build new living quarters for our personnel over the next decade. We are also working seamlessly with key allies to strengthen our collective deterrence and develop new, innovative capabilities. Just last month, I was in Australia with our Australian and US partners to advance our AUKUS programme, which will develop and deliver a range of cutting-edge kit in addition to the next generation of nuclear-powered submarines. At the end of last year, I was in Japan to advance our global combat air programme, which is the development of the sixth-generation fighter jet with Italy and Japan.

Just last week I was in Telford to see the first fully British tank for 22 years coming off the production line. That is just one strand of our Future Soldier programme to make our Army more integrated and much more lethal. Of course, defence already supports hundreds of thousands of jobs, with real quality to them, in the UK, including over 200,000 directly in the industry. Our additional £75 billion will open up many more opportunities in regions up and down the country.

This is a turning point in UK defence. We must spend more because defence of the realm is the first duty of every Government. We on the Government side of the House recognise that fact. But while I want to see peace and international order being restored, I am also absolutely convinced that it is hopeful thinking—even complacency—to imagine that we can do that without ensuring that we are better protected. The best way of keeping a country safe and protecting our way of life is deterrence: being prepared; being clear-eyed about the threats we face; being clear about our capabilities; backing UK defence science, technology and innovation; carrying not just a big stick, but the most advanced and capable stick that we can possibly develop, and yes, using our military muscle alongside our allies.

Our investment in our continuous at-sea nuclear deterrent makes would-be adversaries think twice. We on the Government side of the House have not come to the conclusion that our nation’s nuclear deterrent is there because an election is approaching; we have always believed in our nuclear deterrent.

This is an additional £75 billion boost for our forces. In the build-up to the NATO summit in Washington, I will do all I can to get alliance members to follow our lead and bolster their armed forces, strengthen their industrial base, invest in innovation, maximise their military deterrence and, most importantly of all, maximise their support for Ukraine. In a more dangerous world, where we face an axis of authoritarian states, 2.5% must become the new baseline for the entire alliance. If we are to deter, lead and defend, that is what is required of us. I commend this statement to the House.

Photo of John Healey John Healey Shadow Secretary of State for Defence 12:50, 24 Ebrill 2024

I thank the Secretary of State for the advance copy of his statement. There is much to welcome in it and more widely today, with the US Congress finally passing the Bill for more military aid to Ukraine and the Prime Minister finally making a multi-year commitment to UK military aid beyond this year.

We face a much more dangerous world. British forces are in action, defending international shipping in the Red sea, reinforcing NATO allies on the Russian border and protecting us all 24/7. They are respected worldwide for their total professionalism. They require our support from all sides of this House. We welcome the new commitments on funding for Ukraine and to build up stockpiles, to boost defence exports, to prioritise domestic defence production and to set up new strategic headquarters in the MOD—all plans I have argued for in this post.

The Secretary of State is right to say that the first duty of any Government is to defend the country and keep its citizens safe. Labour will always do what is required and spend what is required on defence. The last time the UK did spent 2.5% of GDP on defence was in 2010, under Labour—never matched in any one of the 14 Tory years since. Two weeks ago, the Labour leader said that we want a fully funded plan for 2.5% of GDP on defence.

We share the same ambition as the Government because we must do more to deal with the growing threats. We want it to be fully costed and fully funded, and set out in the Government’s baseline budgets. This 2030 target is not; it is in a press release. Why was the 2030 plan not in last month’s Budget, or any of the other five Budgets and autumn statements since the Government first promised to spend 2.5% by 2030, two years ago? None hit 2.5%; none reversed the real cuts in day-to-day defence spending; none matched Labour’s record in Government. If this 2030 plan had been in a Budget, it would have been independently checked, openly costed and fully funded. Where is the additional money coming from? How much is coming from which other research and development budgets? How much is coming from cutting how many civil servants, and in which Departments?

The Government have tried this trick before, in the 2015 defence review. Ministers pledged to cut 30% of MOD civil servants in order to make their defence spending plans add up. Civil servant numbers did not go down—instead of going down to 41,000, they went up to 63,000. The Secretary of State mentioned an additional £75 billion five times in his statement. Over the next six years, the Government’s official spending plans are based on 0.5% real annual growth in core defence spending. Why has he invented his own zero-growth baseline to produce this fake figure, claiming an extra £75 billion for defence? The public will judge Ministers by what they do, not what they say. Over 14 years, they have hollowed out our armed forces; they have cut the Army to its smallest size since Napoleon; they have missed their own recruitment targets each and every year; they have allowed morale to fall to record lows; and they have wasted at least £15 billion on mismanaging defence procurement.

Everyone recognises that defence spending must rise to deal with increasing threats. The Opposition have no access to classified threat assessments or military advice, so if we are elected to government we will conduct a strategic defence review within our first year to get to grips with the threats we face, the capabilities we need, the state of the armed forces and the resources available when we get to open the books. That is how Labour will manage the requirements for strong national security and the responsibility for sound public finances.

The Defence Secretary clearly likes Labour’s plans for defence, because so much of them are now Government policy. But there is still no Tory plan to reinforce homeland protections with a new strategic review; to fulfil NATO obligations in full, with a NATO test on our major programmes; to renew the nation’s contract with those who serve with an independent forces commissioner; and to make allies our strategic strength with a new EU, French or German defence agreement. With threats increasing and tensions growing, we must make Britain better defended. With Labour, Britain will be better defended.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

Let me start on the areas that I agree with. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned how much we welcome the US Congress putting $60 billion into the defence of Ukraine. We warmly welcome that. As Churchill was reputed to have said, America usually gets on and does the right thing when it has exhausted all other alternatives. It took a long time, but we have got to the point where that money will go to Ukraine. That is very welcome across the House.

The right hon. Gentleman says that he welcomes today’s announcement, but then spends all his time explaining—or rather, avoiding explaining—why Labour is not backing 2.5%, which has a schedule, a timescale and figures that have been published and are in the document produced yesterday and laid in the Library. He says, “Judge us by our action, not our words.” We will, because 11 Members of the Opposition Front-Bench team voted against Trident. It is no good for him and the Leader of the Opposition to go up to Barrow and to claim that they are all in favour of the nuclear defence, because they stood on a platform with a leader who wanted to scrap Trident, pull us out of NATO, and turn the army into a peace corps.

The Opposition tell us, “Judge us on our actions.” Where is the shadow Foreign Secretary, who voted against Trident? Where is the shadow Deputy Prime Minister and the shadow Communities Secretary, who voted against Trident? Neither is there on the Front Bench. Presumably neither is in full agreement with the right hon. Gentleman. When it comes to the defence of the realm and defending this country, the Conservative party has always believed in our nuclear deterrent. We are upgrading it and making sure it is fit for purpose. Neither supports the 2.5%, as the House will have noted.

It is fine for the right hon. Gentleman to come to the Dispatch Box and talk about yet another review. If the problem were having defence reviews, there would be no issues at all. The last thing this country and armed forces require is yet another review—delay, disruption and obfuscation.

Photo of Jeremy Quin Jeremy Quin Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Committee

My right hon. Friend is right to say that we are continually asking more of our armed forces, as the Defence Committee’s recent report made clear. In that context, I greatly welcome the announcement and the increased investment. We want it to unleash a triple whammy in which our industrial partners also seize the opportunity to invest heavily in capital equipment and R&D, and in which our NATO allies see this as a new benchmark to which those who do not already can aspire and meet. What are we doing to ensure that we not only make the investment but achieve that triple whammy?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. Friend the Chair of the Defence Committee is absolutely right on the investment point. I spoke to my opposite number, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin, yesterday evening about how it will help to galvanise NATO in particular to make greater investment. When we go to the NATO summit in Washington for the 75th anniversary, the new baseline will be 2.5%, rather than the 2% one set by the UK in 2014, which 18 or so of NATO’s 32 members have now reached. That investment sends a very important signal to the whole defence industrial base. That is why it is critical to set out the plan and stick to it, and agree to reach 2.5% by 2030.

Photo of Martin Docherty Martin Docherty Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Defence)

The Secretary of State clearly has a herculean task to find £75 billion, so let us seek clarity on where it may be found. I welcome the investment if it is in capability. I agree with the shadow Secretary of State on why it was not in the Budget. I think we all know why: it does not stand up to scrutiny. Let me also welcome the Secretary of State’s investment in Ukraine, on the back of the US commitment. I have to say to our US colleagues that it was long overdue. Let me ask some specific questions. It is the duty of Opposition to challenge Government, and we will have our differences.

With no increase in borrowing or debt, the implication is that there will be deeper cuts to other public services. If the Government have assumed a baseline with spend frozen in cash terms as of GDP, as I think was alluded to by the shadow Defence Secretary, it comes nowhere near £75 billion. As I come from a services family, I wonder if the Secretary of State will commit to a direct increase in spend on accommodation, training and recruitment as part of this proposal, given that we are at a near Napoleonic decline on the frontline and have pushed members of the armed forces into food banks and near penury?

The Secretary of State and I will, of course, disagree on the nuclear deterrent, but I wonder if he will answer one specific point while he retains it. The nuclear enterprise has been exposed as unaffordable in the latest report by the National Audit Office. What assurances can he give the House that the nuclear deterrent will not continue to cannibalise the Ministry of Defence budget and, specifically, the £75 billion he has proposed today?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

The first thing I should point out is that page 20 in the annex of the document before the House describes the uplift in the defence budget. We have headlined it as £75 billion. In fact, when we go through and add up the individual amounts year on year, it reaches £77 billion of expenditure. Members can see there exactly how we will get to it.

Secondly, it is fully funded. I know the Labour party does not like the idea, but we will remove 72,000 civil servants from the system, not because we do not think they are good people—fortunately, with low unemployment we know they will be gainfully employed elsewhere—but because we want to get back to the size of the civil service we had before covid, before it expanded greatly. We see no reason to continue to run a civil service with 70,000 additional people each year, when that money could go into the defence of the realm.

The hon. Gentleman asks about our commitment to our armed forces personnel, their families and their accommodation. He may have missed it in my statement, but I mentioned £4 billion that we will now invest in their accommodation and conditions over this period, thanks to this big uplift. He will be aware that last year there were a lot of problems with leaks and boilers not being fixed for considerable periods of time. There have not been those stories this year, because we got on top of that with £400 million and by making sure that contractors are doing their job.

As the hon. Gentleman rightly says, we have our differences on things like nuclear deterrence, but if there is one thing that benefits Scotland in particular, I would suggest it is what goes on at Faslane, with the extraordinary high-quality jobs it produces and the proud part it plays in this nation’s defence.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament

The main reason why this welcome uplift has come when it has is Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Does the Secretary of State agree that if Russia and Putin are seen to fail in Ukraine, the threat to NATO will be put back for at least a generation? Conversely, if they succeed, the threat to NATO will intensify. Will he therefore do everything he can to persuade our allies, especially certain parts of the United States’ new political establishment, that the success of Ukraine is essential for the peace of Europe and, indeed, the peace of the world?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. Although this is £75 billion and although it takes our budget to 2.5% of GDP, that is a fraction—a fraction—of what it would cost if Putin were successful in Ukraine. There is no chance he would stop there—none. Other autocrats elsewhere would look at that and exploit the idea that all they have to do is outwait the west and we will get bored of it—through some form of attention deficit—and give up defending the things we said we would never stop defending. That, in the end, would cost us all a huge amount more.

Photo of Kevan Jones Kevan Jones Llafur, North Durham

May I first of all congratulate the Secretary of State on his stellar used-car salesman act, which we have become used to? On 26 March, he appeared, along with officials, before the Defence Committee. His strategic finance director confirmed that next year, when we take Ukraine funding out of the budget, the defence budget falls. Can he tell the House how he reconciles that fact, which was confirmed by his own officials, with his claim today and the Prime Minister’s yesterday to be putting the country on a war footing?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I am really sorry that the right hon. Gentleman cheapens what is a very important discussion about the defence of the realm with such a ridiculous remark. We should all come here in the right spirit to discuss these important issues, given the subject matter. He asks about Ukraine. Ukraine is a part of what our armed forces and this country are having to deal with. We do not ask America to strip out its help to Ukraine, in the same way that we did not ask it to strip out its help to Afghanistan or Iraq, because it is part of the core defence budget. Yesterday—I did not mention this in my statement, and perhaps on this basis the right hon. Gentleman may be forgiven—we also said that our enhanced amount of money for Ukraine is not now just for this year, but we are going to carry on doing it every single year into the future. So, yes, it is part of our core expense.

Photo of Mark Francois Mark Francois Ceidwadwyr, Rayleigh and Wickford

I commend the Secretary of State for obtaining this massive £75 billion increase in defence, which theoretically would allow us to buy 20 new Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers. At the risk of upsetting our excellent First Sea Lord, we are not likely to do that, but we are putting our defence industry on a war footing. Can we do the concomitant thing and create a war reserve of equipment with older Typhoons, older warships and older armoured vehicles, so that if we had to fight at short notice we would have enough equipment to do it and so that we can tell our adversaries that when we say, “Si vis pacem, para bellum,” we actually mean it?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I thank my right hon. Friend not just for his words, but for his constant campaigning on this subject. Those of us who have been subject to him in a Select Committee know that he knows his facts, knows what he is talking about and has done as much as anybody to ensure that this uplift is happening. I can confirm for the House that we will not be using the £75 billion for 20 new aircraft carriers.

My right hon. Friend makes an interesting point about what we could do with older equipment. I have to say to him that right now, I am much more minded to send that equipment to Ukraine. That is why, yesterday, I pulled together the biggest donation package to date, in what is now the third year of the war, of equipment to Ukraine. For the time being, I think we will be sending it in an easterly direction.

Photo of Derek Twigg Derek Twigg Llafur, Halton

Can I ask the Secretary of State what he believes a war footing is?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

Very simply, Ukraine has taught the world a great deal about this. When it comes to, for instance, producing sufficient munitions to restock the Ukrainians’ supply, it is very difficult—in fact, impossible—to do that instantaneously. When there is global competition for 155s or other missiles, we want to ensure that our own industrial defence estate is able to produce such items by telling those in the industry that they are on a war footing. By putting in £75 billion more and, critically, naming the date by which we will get there, we will put them on that war footing.

Photo of Richard Drax Richard Drax Ceidwadwyr, South Dorset

I commend my right hon. Friend for his stalwart stubbornness in securing this important increase in defence spending. He and I both know that much more money is needed, but this is a step in the right direction. He is off shortly to meet NATO members, and I fear that he will have a great deal of work to do. For example, only two NATO members are prepared to open fire on the Houthis in the strait of Hormuz, one of the major trade routes for NATO and the west. Does my right hon. Friend feel that there will be a lot of work for him to do when he goes to meet those NATO members and asks them to step up and spend 2.5% on defence, as they should do and as we are going to do?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I thank my hon. and gallant Friend for his comments. He is right to point out the need to be prepared to use the abilities that we have. Ours is one of the only countries with both the global reach and the desire and preparedness to use those abilities, which is why we have ended up defending ships in the Red sea from the Houthis. I can report that a specific incident along those lines has taken place today, with our armed forces in action, and we can be very proud of everything they do for us.

Photo of Richard Foord Richard Foord Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Defence)

On behalf of the Liberal Democrats, I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s statement about increased defence spending, although it relates to a time six years hence rather than being specific about funding in the intervening years. Eighteen of the 32 members of NATO are still not spending even 2% of GDP on defence, including France, Spain and Italy. Encouraging them to spend more is not so much about fairness as about persuading sceptics in the United States that North America should remain engaged in Europe. Leverage at the NATO summit in July will come too late. What additional commitments did the Secretary of State and other Ministers obtain from our allies before announcing the 2030 pledge?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

First, I assure the hon. Gentleman that it starts this year—the half a billion pounds is in this year’s budget. We have opted to give that money directly to Ukraine, in addition to the money that we are already gifting it, bringing the total to £3 billion.

Secondly, let me gently say that I do not think I have ever heard Liberal Democrats argue for more defence spending, but I strongly welcome the hon. Gentleman to the cause. I agree with him entirely that 2%—which we ourselves set back in 2014—is no longer the baseline that we should be working to, but I gently point out to him that the reason it has taken some time to replace Trident, and in particular the submarines, is that there was a short period under the coalition when we could not get our Liberal Democrat partners to agree to get on with the job.

Photo of Bernard Jenkin Bernard Jenkin Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Committee (Commons), Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on National Policy Statements, Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on National Policy Statements, Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on Scrutiny of Strategic Thinking in Government, Chair, Liaison Sub-Committee on Scrutiny of Strategic Thinking in Government

May I, in passing, pay tribute to the late Frank Field? He voted for the renewal of Trident, unlike many on the Labour Front Bench, and he would have understood that deepening our defence capability in the conventional forces is a vital part of the deterrence that NATO provides for the security of Europe. I commend my right hon. Friend and the Government for leading the way on this, and setting an example through leadership.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I thank my hon. Friend and add my condolences to those already conveyed by others. Frank Field was a great statesman with really innovative ideas about welfare reform, which it took this Government to enact, and he is a great loss to us all.

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend about our leadership in NATO in getting to 2.5%. I was talking about that to the Secretary-General of NATO yesterday. We must ensure that 2.5% is the new level at which people operate. If they did—if everyone joined us at 2.5%—there would be £135 billion per annum more in the collective NATO budget, which would make a huge difference.

Photo of Nia Griffith Nia Griffith Shadow Minister (International Trade), Shadow Minister (Cabinet Office)

Labour is absolutely committed to reaching 2.5%, and we welcome the additional £500 million for Ukraine, but time is of the essence. What is the Secretary of State doing to speed up the delivery of much-needed military supplies to the frontline in Ukraine?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I warmly welcome the hon. Lady’s comments, and I hope very much that those on her Front Bench, who have not attached themselves to the timeline that she urges, have listened closely to what she has said. As for the delivery of items to the frontline, we will be very fast; we will deliver in a matter of days or weeks quite a lot of the items outlined in the very extensive package announced yesterday, although they come in a number of different forms and some, by their physical nature, will take longer to deliver than others.

Photo of David Mundell David Mundell Ceidwadwyr, Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

I welcome the announcement, and indeed the decision that has finally been made in the United States. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that investment will go into not just technology, but the logistic, the warehousing and the background facilities here in the UK—such as those at MOD Longtown, a very important employer for my constituency—to ensure that our frontline forces are supplied with the best kit that they could possibly have?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. Friend can certainly have that reassurance. We know that such support is extraordinarily important to the running of truly lethal and effective armed forces.

Photo of Emma Hardy Emma Hardy Shadow Minister (Flooding, Oceans and Coastal Communities)

In every year since 2010, the Government—along with their Liberal Democrat partners—have missed recruitment targets, and The Times has warned that Army numbers could fall to 70,000 full-time equivalents. What is the Defence Secretary doing to ensure that those who wish to serve and defend our country are not put off by the broken recruitment system?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

The hon. Lady will be pleased to hear that in January and February we had an eight-year high in the number of applications for the Army, which was reflected in the other services. I agree that we need to be much more effective in getting applications all the way through the system. It takes too long, and the procedures are too disparate. People are having to turn up for an initial interview, go away and then come back for a medical. Why not do all those things at once?

However, other measures are really helping. There has been a pay increase of nearly 10% for the less well-paid members of the armed forces in the last year, which has helped with recruitment, and people seeing our armed forces involved in so much action has also helped. The Minister for Defence People and Families is spending a great deal of time ensuring that the many recommendations—67, I think—in the Haythornthwaite review are implemented as quickly as possible.

Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Ceidwadwyr, Bournemouth East

I join the many voices that have called for some time for an increase in defence spending, and we welcome this announcement. I suspect that, privately, the Defence Secretary was hoping that this day would come as well, and I congratulate him on the work that he has done behind the scenes to ensure that this funding is secured.

State-on-state conflict has returned in Europe, and the world is more dangerous, more contested and more polarised. Will the Defence Secretary therefore expand a little on the consequences to UK security and to the UK economy if Russia wins? Before rushing in to spend these increased funds, will he recognise the need to consider the full spectrum of threats and warfare that we face, so that money is wisely spent?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. and gallant Friend has been a very important part of ensuring that we got to where we are today, but I had not realised that I had been keeping my own desire to reach this point quite so secret. He is correct in saying that the implications of Russia’s winning this war would be horrendous. The cost of what this country had to put up with because of covid, for example, would seem small in comparison with the cost of what could happen if other autocratic states decided to take a chunk of other people’s land; that could have a direct impact on our economy.

This is not, in my view, money that we are spending; it is money that we are investing in our security, to ensure that Russia and other despotic leaders like Putin never think that they can try it on with us. We will be investing it extremely wisely in many programmes with which my right hon. Friend and other Members on both sides of the House are familiar, as well as in innovative new areas such as the DragonFire.

Photo of Drew Hendry Drew Hendry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Economy)

May I thank the Secretary of State for the urgent support for Ukraine, which is much needed just now? However, the Institute for Fiscal Studies pointed out that in the Chancellor’s Budget, there was a conspiracy of silence between the Government and the Labour party on following the fiscal rules when it came to saying where £20 billion-worth of cuts to public services would come from. Today’s announcement adds up to another £9 billion of cuts to public services. Can he explain where those cuts will be made?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

We have already laid out the fact that this plan is fully costed and funded. As I have mentioned to the House, we have said that we will reduce the size of the civil service by 72,000. That is not a one-off cut; it is money that is not being paid each year, and will help to fund defence. There are also some other things that the Chancellor will no doubt wish to get into. I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman has taken a look at page 20 and the annexe, but he will see that this is all set out.

Photo of Alec Shelbrooke Alec Shelbrooke Ceidwadwyr, Elmet and Rothwell

I absolutely welcome this very important investment in defence. As my right hon. Friend says, the world is a changed place, and I am sure that he would agree that defence is indeed a public service. On the extra funding and the projects that he has announced, may I ask him to make sure that he says to the Treasury that the programmes should be fully funded? This should not just be capital investment. The Treasury has a habit of saying, “The capital investment is fine, but let’s not worry about revenue.” The projects will need revenue, so will he make sure to have those conversations with the Treasury?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. Friend makes a very clear point, based on his experience of the Department. We have to make sure not just that we fund the capital, but that we have the resource to run the equipment. He raises a very important matter, and this budget enables us to ensure that this is done properly.

Photo of Debbie Abrahams Debbie Abrahams Llafur, Oldham East and Saddleworth

I, too, welcome the increase to 2.5%. The world has definitely become a more dangerous place over the last 14 years. I can only suppose that the announcement was not made in last month’s Budget because it would have come under scrutiny from the Office for Budget Responsibility, but could the Defence Secretary say exactly what proportion of the 2.5% will be spent on cyber-security and armed services personnel?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I should point out to the House that we have always said that we would do this when conditions allowed. Inflation fell to 3.2% last week—down from over 11%. Ten days ago, we saw Iran fire hundreds of missiles at a democratic state, and we were partly involved in the collective defence. It is therefore true to say that the world is showing itself to be even more dangerous. We have reached the point where we are seeing growth back in the economy and inflation falling, so now is the right time to do this. The hon. Lady asks about the sums of money that will go into, for example, cyber or space. I do not have those figures on me. I would be very happy to write to her with an overview, because it will take a bit of collation to work that out exactly from the existing budget. Quite a lot of what happens in strategic command, which covers those areas, crosses over into other parts of the armed forces, so it is not a simple question to answer.

Photo of Flick Drummond Flick Drummond Ceidwadwyr, Meon Valley

This is a very welcome statement, so I thank my right hon. Friend. He mentioned the Haythornthwaite report. When will we get an update, particularly on the plan to spend the £4 million investment in service families accommodation?

Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down

I accept the need for additional defence spending, but may I ask the Defence Secretary for reassurance that the Government’s strategy for UK and global security going forward will have an appropriate balance of hard and soft power? By that I mean ongoing investment in diplomacy, humanitarian assistance, international development—potentially including the restoration of the target of spending 0.7% of gross national income—and, indeed, support for the international rules-based order.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I can certainly reassure the hon. Gentleman that that is something that we in the MOD are always looking to do. We have just made our seventh or eighth drop of food aid into Gaza, using the RAF. We are working with the Americans on other solutions, including the pier, and I work very closely with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. Indeed, I used to be a Minister in the former Department for International Development, so I am well aware of the issues he raises. The MOD will always look to assist, with our armed forces, wherever we can; we often combine hard and soft power.

Photo of James Sunderland James Sunderland Chair, Select Committee on the Armed Forces Bill

This has been a good week for defence, and I commend the Government on their commitment to 2.5%, but the issue is how we spend it. Could the Defence Secretary confirm to the House that, rather than our focusing on exquisite exclusivity or—heaven forbid—indulging single service bad behaviour, the money will be spent on plugging capability gaps, better operating the platforms that we have, and ensuring that our forces have the activity, resilience and sustainment to maintain and enhance their world-leading and persistent global posture?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

That is an excellent question. The Minister for Defence Procurement has done an outstanding job on a publication that I recommend to everyone in the House: “Integrated Procurement Model”. It is much more exciting than it sounds. That new model has already been responsible for bringing forward the procurement of the DragonFire by five years. Rather than our trying to create exquisite, unbelievably complicated and never-quite-right equipment, the model will bring equipment into the field and allow it to be spiralled and developed further. My hon. Friend is absolutely right: we will use this money much more intelligently to make sure that we get kit into the field, and expand and improve it from there.

Photo of Mike Kane Mike Kane Shadow Minister (Transport)

While I welcome the increase to 2.5%, the modus operandi of this Secretary of State is to come to this House and announce billions of pounds of investment to get people salivating about it, only for it to never happen. Look at Northern Powerhouse Rail and High Speed 2. We know it, the country knows it and the brass knows it. The Times reports that we will fall to below 70,000 full-time equivalent troops. Where will we be with boots on the ground in a year’s time?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

The way for this not to happen is for the public to vote for the hon. Gentleman’s party, because I have not heard this afternoon that the Labour party is committed to making it happen. If people want 2.5% by 2030, they should vote Conservative, because that is what we will give them. I think I will leave it there.

Photo of Simon Clarke Simon Clarke Ceidwadwyr, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland

I add my tribute to the late Frank Field, who was an extraordinary man and a great parliamentarian.

In welcoming the announcement of an additional £75 billion over the next six years, which is much needed, may I urge the Secretary of State to consider the potential for a fifth successor-class submarine? I note that the patrol times for the Vanguard class are approaching 200 days, which is not sustainable, and it is vital that we give ourselves as much operational capacity as we can with our deterrent.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

We will always keep a very close eye on how we ensure a constant at-sea nuclear deterrent. I can confirm that it has been at sea every single day for 54 years, and we do not intend to have that stretch broken. Quite what that requires is a matter for defence study. As my right hon. Friend knows, we are committed to delivering four Dreadnoughts, which will be far more modern. Like any modern piece of equipment, they are likely to have greater reliability as well. We will not let this country down when it comes to our nuclear deterrent. As I said in my statement, we are not doing this just because we are approaching an election. We have always believed in our nuclear deterrent, and we always will.

Photo of Kenny MacAskill Kenny MacAskill Alba, East Lothian

Even Winston Churchill recognised that modern conflicts are fought by people, not armies. That is why world war two was the genesis of the NHS and the welfare state. However, while military spending is increasing, public services are collapsing. Is it not as important to wage war on poverty at home as it is to prepare for war abroad? If there needs to be an increase in military and defence expenditure, surely it should come from the cancellation of the failed Trident project, which is impoverishing military services, rather than from public services. Why should the people pay for the Government’s wars?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I could not disagree with the hon. Gentleman more strongly. Even in my time as Defence Secretary, there are decisions that I have made that, if we had not had the nuclear deterrent, I would have hesitated in making. It protects us every single day in ways that are not always immediately obvious to everyone. The idea that by not investing in our defence we would somehow be safer, and that somehow all that money would be available to invest in all these other public services, is to misunderstand the first principle of every Government: we are here to defend the realm, without which there would be nothing to pay for internally, because we would not be safe externally.

Photo of Edward Leigh Edward Leigh Ceidwadwyr, Gainsborough

In the 1930s, a wise Government ensured that RAF airfields were upgraded and improved, and that saved us from extinction in 1940. If we are to be on a war footing, will the Secretary of State remind the Home Office that it is its duty to maintain the best runway in Europe, the 10,000-ft runway at RAF Scampton, instead of letting it rot, as it is at present? If the Home Office is incapable of doing that, will it hand it over to Scampton Holdings as soon as possible—as we have argued for 15 months—so that it can be used, improved and available for a future emergency?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My right hon. Friend is speaking to the converted. As a keen pilot, I agree with him entirely. In fact, this usually works the other way around, but I will offer him a meeting so that we can discuss RAF Scampton and its long-term future, rather than the short term, in more detail.

Photo of Gen Kitchen Gen Kitchen Llafur, Wellingborough

Coming from a naval family, it is important to me that Labour is also wanting to reach 2.5%. Our ambition is no less than that of the Government. The Defence Secretary has said that this defence spending increase will be funded in part by big cuts in the number of civil servants. How much of this cut will be in the MOD civilian workforce, and will the Royal Fleet Auxiliary be exempt?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I welcome the hon. Lady’s support for this package and for the 2.5% and gently suggest that conversations with those on her own Front Bench would be important at this point. It is in the interest of national security that both sides sign up to 2.5% by a deadline, which we note this afternoon has not happened. She asked a specific question about the reduction. In the MOD, it would be a 10,000 reduction by 2028. To be clear, that is a reduction from about 60,000 to 50,000. I personally believe that is exactly the right thing to do if it helps to pay for our brave men and women in the armed forces out in the country. Less bureaucracy and more action—I think that is a good thing.

Photo of Mark Pritchard Mark Pritchard Ceidwadwyr, The Wrekin

I thank the Secretary of State for his recent visit to Shropshire, which he referenced, and also to welcome his statement and the statement of the Prime Minister yesterday. This is record investment into UK defence, which will be very welcome in Shropshire. Would my right hon. Friend like to take this opportunity to put on record his thanks to all those that work in uniform and the civilians at RAF Cosford, at MOD Donnington, at Babcock and at RBSLRheinmetall BAE Systems Land—which he recently visited? Can he confirm that the UK’s and Shropshire’s defence is secure with this Government?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I warmly join my right hon. Friend in sending exactly that message. As he says, just last week I was looking at the first prototypes of the Challenger 3 coming off the production line in his patch. My only regret was that I was not able to see him at the same time.

Photo of Deidre Brock Deidre Brock Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Wales), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (COP26), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (House of Commons Business)

My written questions this week have uncovered another worrying increase in nuclear safety events at nuclear weapons sites in 2023, with the first category A safety breach in 15 years at Faslane and the highest number of category B incidents since 2006. Category A incidents are defined as those that have an actual or high potential for radioactive release to the environment in breach of safety limits. A former chief adviser to a Prime Minister has described our existing nuclear stock as “rotting” and “a dangerous disaster”. Can the Secretary of State tell us how much of this extra spend will go towards ensuring that, at the very least, existing nuclear sites do not deteriorate further, threatening the health and safety of armed forces staff and surrounding populations?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I am pleased to report to the hon. Lady that our defence standards, particularly when it comes to our nuclear estate, are extremely high. Whenever an issue is found, it is properly and thoroughly investigated. She is right to say that it is important that we continue to invest in that. This money is good news: every bit helps and we want to ensure that it is spent appropriately. As it happens, we fund the nuclear estate appropriately, but this money will help to ensure that is put well beyond doubt.

Photo of James Gray James Gray Chair, Environmental Audit Sub-Committee on Polar Research, Chair, Environmental Audit Sub-Committee on Polar Research

This is a very welcome announcement. There are no strings attached, and a guaranteed move to 2.5% of GDP sends a powerful message to two groups of people: our NATO partners and our adversaries around the world. Does the Secretary of State agree, however, that the powerful message is undermined by what I can only describe as the mealy-mouthed response from the Labour, Liberal Democrat and Scot Nat Front Benches? If they will not support what we are doing, what sort of message does that send to Putin and to other enemies? Surely what we want now is cross-party consensus: it must be 2.5% and Labour must side with us on it.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I could not agree with my hon. Friend more.

Photo of Sarah Jones Sarah Jones Shadow Minister (Industry and Decarbonisation)

May I take this opportunity to pay tribute to the reservists based in Croydon, who, among many roles, have been in Estonia helping to keep us all safe? Labour wants to reach 2.5%, but my right hon. Friend the shadow Defence Secretary has asked why there is no budget line or fully funded plans for the announcement. This appears to be a bit of a pattern across Government. Only yesterday, I learned that a £1 billion announcement made about carbon capture and storage several years ago still appears nowhere on a Treasury budget line. If the Government play so fast and loose with our public funding, how on earth will the Secretary of State deliver the economic stability on which our defence spending relies?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I encourage the hon. Lady, and all Opposition Members, to have a closer look at what we announced yesterday. This is a fully funded announcement. We have explained where the money will come from. We have set out in tables that you can go and read, Madam Deputy Speaker, the funding for the £75 billion. It is true that a choice exists that Labour Front Benchers need to talk not only to their Back Benchers about—because they will not agree with increasing to 2.5% by 2030—but unfortunately to many on their Front Bench as well. They will need to talk to 11 in particular—the ones who have voted against Trident, some of whom wanted to leave our nuclear deterrent behind and possibly even leave NATO as well. Conservative Members are, however, entirely united in the idea of spending 2.5%, setting a date for it now, setting out how that spending will work and making the choices to get there.

Photo of Ruth Edwards Ruth Edwards Assistant Whip

I strongly welcome this investment, which rightly recognises the increasingly unstable world in which we are operating. Many of our military capabilities are powered by advanced semi-conductors, and recent years have shown how fragile these supply chains can be. Will the Secretary of State set out what the Government are doing to develop strong alliances focused on securing our supply of that vital component?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend is right. As Business Secretary, I took the decision on Newport Wafer Fab, which highlighted to me the importance of our own supply chain for advanced semiconductors, particularly in the defence realm. That is one reason that, in the plan we published yesterday, we have committed to a new level of 5% of R&D for defence, to ensure that we are not only researching and developing but, through the expansion of the military capability in the industrial base, producing the things that we need for our armed forces.

Photo of Ashley Dalton Ashley Dalton Shadow Minister (Equalities Office)

Labour wants to reach 2.5%. I do not know how many more Labour Members need to say that before it gets through. If anybody was listening, my right hon. Friend John Healey, the shadow Secretary of State, also said that clearly in his contribution. The Secretary of State said repeatedly on the media round this morning, and in the Chamber, that on page 20 we can find the fully costed plan. Bearing in mind that there is no mention on page 20 of how the 2.5% will be reached through the cuts to the civil service that the Secretary of State has described, and that the entire civil service budget is only £16.6 billion, where is the fully funded plan? It is not on page 20.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

The hon. Lady once again asserts that Labour wants to reach 2.5%. Labour cannot just assert it; it has to will the means to get there. I did not hear that from the Labour Front Bench in response to this statement or yesterday’s announcement. As in all normal cases, and particularly spending reviews, the Treasury will set out all the numbers going forward, but the fact of the matter is that the figures published yesterday show £77 billion more being spent from this year through to the end of the decade, in part paid for by removing 72,000 civil servants from the system so that we get back to where we were before covid. If Labour does not want to follow that approach, it could follow another, but the hon. Lady cannot just assert that Labour agrees without explaining how it will do it.

Photo of Philip Dunne Philip Dunne Chair, Environmental Audit Committee, Chair, Environmental Audit Committee

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

I also warmly welcome the increase of defence spending to 2.5% of GDP, and I congratulate my right hon. Friend and the Prime Minister on the leadership role they are providing to NATO. On where this extra money will go, will my right hon. Friend elaborate a little more on the balance between meeting the existing challenges in the equipment plan and introducing innovative new capability through the new procurement model that he commended to the House earlier?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

We will both ensure that we deliver the things that we have said we will deliver. In a changing world, with the threat of Iran, Russia, a much more assertive China and a nuclear-armed North Korea, we are adjusting our programme to ensure that it does what is required.

New innovations, as my right hon. Friend will have gathered from my comments about spending 5% of GDP on R&D, are very important to us. We can now see how, in an asymmetric war, Russia’s entire Black Sea fleet has been made inoperative by a Ukrainian navy that has no fleet at all—a ghost fleet. We need to consider how we do all that, and this money will be used wisely in that context.

Photo of Jim Shannon Jim Shannon Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Human Rights), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Health)

I thank the Secretary of State, the Prime Minister and the Government for their clear commitment to 2.5%. I also thank them for committing an extra £500 million of aid for Ukraine, which is important. The Secretary of State and the Government are setting a target for the rest of NATO to follow, and I hope it will.

I very much welcome the news of an increase in defence spending, which my party and I have pushed for, but how much of the increase will be feet on the ground and how much will be enhanced cyber-security?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

We are sticking with the defence review and refresh, which set out the exact personnel numbers. I think it is 188,000 across all three services. I have explained the extent to which new technology is helping to shape our thinking, but so are the lessons from Ukraine, particularly on the need to have munitions and larger stockpiles available.

There are, of course, many excellent locations, including in Northern Ireland, where more munitions and missiles are being created as we speak, with about an eightfold expansion. I look forward to visiting some of those who will enjoy the additional £10 billion, bringing the total to about £25 billion, over the next few weeks.

Several hon. Members:

rose—

Photo of Rosie Winterton Rosie Winterton Deputy Speaker (First Deputy Chairman of Ways and Means)

Order. I am anxious to ensure that all colleagues get in, but I urge brief questions so that the Secretary of State can give brief answers.

Photo of John Baron John Baron Ceidwadwyr, Basildon and Billericay

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I chair the 1922 defence committee, and the Secretary of State will know from Prime Minister’s questions that the whole Conservative party welcomes this announcement, but may I suggest that the message from the Government would carry so much greater resonance globally if the official Opposition also signed up to it? I am a former member of the armed forces, so I can assure him that the country speaking as a whole—the official Opposition and the Government together—carries much greater weight internationally for the good of the country.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. and gallant Friend is absolutely right. We have seen how that has worked with Ukraine, and I am sorry that it is not working today with the timeline to get to 2.5%. I am afraid it proves, once again, that this country’s safety is in the right hands when Conservatives are in power.

Photo of Jason McCartney Jason McCartney Ceidwadwyr, Colne Valley

I echo the words of the Secretary-General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, who said after yesterday’s defence spending announcement that

“once again, the UK is leading by example.”

In the light of the £500 million support package for Ukraine—and having seen the awful pictures of missile attacks on Ukrainian cities, including the destruction of the TV tower in Kharkiv in the past 48 hours—can my right hon. Friend confirm that the much-needed ammunition and missile systems will be in Ukraine as soon as possible, to aid its fight against Russian aggression?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend is absolutely right, both about what the Secretary-General said about how we are leading NATO in this regard, and about the absolute importance of our being there for Ukraine. We cannot afford for this war to be lost, and it will not be lost. I will make sure that he receives the comprehensive list of the items that we will now be supplying.

Photo of Holly Mumby-Croft Holly Mumby-Croft Ceidwadwyr, Scunthorpe

It was widely reported some months ago that my right hon. Friend and the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities had written to the Prime Minister setting out their concerns about the future of Scunthorpe’s blast furnaces. For all the reasons he has stated today, this is more important than ever, so I commend him for his foresight prior to his current role. Will he consider the importance of good-quality, British-made steel to our nation’s defence capabilities?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I well remember my hon. Friend’s pretty much constant lobbying. She is a great champion for her steelworks, and her comment about the importance of using British steel in British defence is taken on board.

Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Ceidwadwyr, Gloucester

We should all be grateful that today’s statement absolutely answers the widespread assessment of the increased risk in the world. Can my right hon. Friend confirm that he, the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister are discussing contributions with our European NATO partners? How important is our commitment to NATO both to the current US Administration and to any future US Administration? Lastly, does he agree that private sector innovation—Roke has recently opened an office in Gloucester—will be an important part of our defence procurement?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend is right about ensuring that we use this announcement to persuade other NATO members to do the same thing. I was proactively speaking to and texting my colleagues throughout NATO and beyond on this just yesterday, and I received very encouraging responses. I look forward to hearing more about the company in his constituency.

Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Ceidwadwyr, Warrington South

I congratulate my right hon. Friend and his Ministers on the work they have rightly done to reform defence procurement, given the significant increase in spending announced by the Prime Minister. How will these changes ensure that our military forces receive equipment more quickly and, in particular, how will they benefit British manufacturers by offering global export opportunities?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

The integrated procurement plan, brilliantly created by my hon. Friend the Minister for Defence Procurement, has ensured that exports and exportability are a key part of the contract. I have mentioned how we have already used this model to speed up the production of DragonFire.

We are also using the integrated procurement model to make sure that we do not over-spec things, so that they do not become like—

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I was not going to say Ajax, but I will say it now. Ajax was over-specced to the point where it became a very delayed project. Fortunately, it is now back on track.

Photo of Siobhan Baillie Siobhan Baillie Ceidwadwyr, Stroud

Stroud constituents will welcome the Prime Minister’s boost for defence spending and ongoing focus on the dangers that we all face. The Stroud district is blessed with many strategically important businesses, such as Steller Systems, which I was with on Friday, Retro Track & Air and Impcross, to name but a few. These are innovative, nimble and agile companies doing extraordinary things. On behalf of the small and medium-sized enterprises and the small family businesses that are playing their part in protecting our country and others around the UK, will the Secretary of State confirm that SMEs will get their fair crack at contracts and that the bigger boys will pay them on time, to keep them alive for the benefit of all?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I predict that companies in Stroud will do very well from this if they are producing innovative and useful equipment for our armed forces. I take on board her point about small and medium-sized enterprises. When I was running my printing business and companies paid late, it would put huge pressure on cash flow. One of the great things that this Government have done is speed up the necessity for large organisations, particularly the primes, to pay properly and on time.

Photo of Marco Longhi Marco Longhi Ceidwadwyr, Dudley North

It is great to hear the Secretary of State’s announcement about the £75 billion investment. Does he agree that it sends a clear signal to our brave armed forces that the party in government backs them, to the country that we back defence of the realm, and to companies in our supply chain up and down the country, including those in my constituency, that we back job security? It also exposes the Opposition as having no plan at all for defence.

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend hits the nail on the head. The Prime Minister made the announcement yesterday in front of British troops, who are out in Poland doing incredible work. The reassurance of the idea that there is a period of time leading up to 2.5%, with the first increase coming immediately, really helps them to do their job, because they know that they are wanted and trusted, and that we honour their work. I agree with the other comments he made. It is a shame that there has not been an entirely cross-party welcome for the announcement.

Photo of Jane Stevenson Jane Stevenson Ceidwadwyr, Wolverhampton North East

I warmly welcome the announcement. The Secretary of State was kind enough to call in on me in Wolverhampton North East last week, and I spoke about the importance of aerospace to my local economy, with companies like HS Marston Aerospace, Collins Aerospace and Moog. How can he ensure that those companies benefit from the highly skilled, well paid jobs that this uplift in spending will bring? Does he agree that industry needs the certainty of cross-party agreement in order to make those investments, and that the Labour party needs to step up?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I very much enjoyed my visit to my hon. Friend’s constituency. She did indeed tell me about the defence companies that are so vibrant in her area. The future looks incredibly bright for them, given the amount we are investing and the fact that defence is typically an extremely well-paid profession. There is enormous ability for apprentices and graduates to be recruited, so her constituents will be happy about the announcement.

Photo of Neil Hudson Neil Hudson Ceidwadwyr, Penrith and The Border

I congratulate the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State on the welcome announcement that defence spending will be increased to 2.5% of GDP, and on their leadership on funding and support for Ukraine. For the sake of freedom, democracy and global safety, it is so important that Ukraine prevails. The announcement shows that it is our Conservative Government who will protect our nation and stand with our allies in the face of increasing international threats. Will the Secretary of State confirm that this sensible linear increase in funding for defence will help our defence industry to ramp up production in parallel, meaning that our armed forces will be supported, capable and resilient, and be able to keep us and our allies safe?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I absolutely can confirm that. One of the features of the way that we have done this is to create a straight line from next year to 2030, to ensure that industrial capacity can ramp up with certainty behind it. I am pleased to confirm that the answer is yes.

Photo of Danny Kruger Danny Kruger Ceidwadwyr, Devizes

The Chief of the Defence Staff from Estonia was in Salisbury plain, in my constituency, last week. He told us that his country has 40,000 men and women in its army reserve, ready to serve at 24 hours’ notice; I call that being on a war footing, given that Estonia has a population 50 times smaller than ours. I am not proposing that we try to replicate that—proportionally, that would mean a 2 million-strong reserve—but will he consider using some of the money to boost our important reserve force?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend will know that we are twinned with Estonia through NATO and we provide protection to it. Estonia is very much on the frontline with Russia, in a way that we are fortunate not to be. We currently have 30,000 reserves. Rather than use them, we can use the many other things we bring to NATO and to Estonia’s protection, including the ability to provide personnel and equipment, which we do on regular basis.

Photo of Simon Fell Simon Fell Ceidwadwyr, Barrow and Furness

I commend my right hon. Friend on the work he has done in setting the new 2.5% baseline. It will reassure our allies, send an important message to our adversaries and strengthen our industrial base. I thank him for the part he played in securing £220 million for Barrow, as a result of the Team Barrow project, securing our future and easing delivery of Dreadnought and SSN-AUKUS. Barrow shipyard is not alone in delivering the submarine enterprise, so will my right hon. Friend confirm that some of the £75 billion will be spent on other key sites, such as Faslane, Devonport and others?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I absolutely can confirm to him that it is intended to benefit sites across the country. In the document we published yesterday, a map on page 10 shows how the different areas and regions of the country will benefit, not just in our nuclear estate but throughout the defence estate. There is not a constituency that does not benefit from the £75 billion announced yesterday. My hon. Friend welcomes the announcement and it is time for others to follow that lead.

Photo of Robin Millar Robin Millar Ceidwadwyr, Aberconwy

I add my own tribute to the late Lord Field. He took the time to talk to me when I was a Conservative councillor about a concern we shared for the weakest and most vulnerable in society, which reaches across the aisles of the House.

There is no doubt that the international threat is developing and the world is a more dangerous place, so I welcome today’s statement. What I hear is an investment in the armed forces that we need, not necessarily the armed forces we have. Does my right hon. Friend share my concern that the statement from the Opposition that they are planning to conduct a review is verging on the careless, in that it gives comfort only to those who seek to do the UK harm?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

My hon. Friend is right about the armed forces that we need, not the armed forces that we have. We want our armed forces to be lethal, quick, agile and capable, which is why it is so important that we invest this £75 billion. He is also right to point out that to have yet another review is simply to invite chaos and delay at exactly the time our adversaries are looking at us, hoping that we do not get on with the job of delivering an extra 2.5% of GDP in funding, which would play into their hands.

Photo of Ian Levy Ian Levy Ceidwadwyr, Blyth Valley

I thank the Secretary of State for the announcement of 2.5% in defence spending by 2030. Will my right hon. Friend acknowledge the fantastic effort delivered by our reserve forces, which I had the pleasure to see for myself in Northumberland last Saturday?

Photo of Grant Shapps Grant Shapps The Secretary of State for Defence

I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments. There are many members of the reserve forces in the House, including the Minister for Defence People and Families, my right hon. Friend Dr Murrison. We thank all members of the reserve forces for their service and for the time they give, and we thank their employers, who allow them to take the time to be reservists. We are grateful for all they do.