Defence spending

Keith Simpson calls on the Government to commit to spending 2% of GDP on defence in each year to 2020 and not just for 2015-16. This is especially important in light of the UK’s position in calling on all NATO countries to commit to the 2% target.

Defence Spending (NATO Target)

7. Mr Keith Simpson (Broadland) (Con): Whether his Department’s budget will meet the NATO target of spending 2% of GDP on defence in each year to 2020. [900121]

The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon): We will be spending 2% of GDP on defence this financial year. Spending beyond that will be determined in the spending review. The Government were elected with a mandate to maintain the size of our regular armed forces, increase the equipment budget in real terms every year and replace our four nuclear ballistic submarines. Those commitments will secure the shape and power of our armed forces throughout this Parliament.

Mr Simpson: I thank the Secretary of State for that answer, but I think he is aware from the comments already made that there is deep concern on both sides of the House about the fact that the Prime Minister, having asked other NATO countries to commit themselves to spending 2% of GDP on defence, is unable to commit to that beyond 2015-16. I hope we will all urge the Secretary of State to make certain that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is aware of that concern, given the threats that have been outlined and the fact that our capacity to deal with them is stretched pretty thin.

Michael Fallon: Let me assure my hon. Friend that the Chancellor of the Exchequer is fully aware of the commitments that were made at the NATO summit and has been even more fully aware during recent negotiations over the in-year savings, which have not taken us below 2%. It is important to note, though, that seven of the 28 NATO members do not even spend 1% on their defence and 20 of the 28 do not even spend 1.5%.

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