MPs voice demands for defence spending

The Ministry of Defence's Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) must address the challenges presented by the resurgence of state-based threats and be supported by a fully-funded and sustainable financial settlement, says a report published by the Defence Committee.


The report, entitled 'Beyond 2 per cent' has been produced ahead of the anticipated release of 'high-level findings' by the MDP, towards the end of June. It examines how the process has proceeded and highlights areas, including capability, commercial practices, recruitment and international partnerships, which the Committee expects the review to consider.


The report explores how the MDP had its origins in the decision taken in mid-2017 to initiate the National Security Capability Review (NSCR) in response to the development of new and intensified threats facing the United Kingdom. The aim of the NSCR was to 'refresh' the findings of the 2015 Strategic Defence and Security Review and look again at capabilities across 12 broad areas of national security policy, including Defence.


However, the 'fiscally neutral' nature of the NSCR meant that any new resources applied to some aspects of national security would entail reductions in resources available to others – even though the emergence of new threats had not been accompanied by the disappearance of pre- existing ones.


According to the report, failing to finance Defence on a sustainable basis will continue to result in supposedly settled policy having to be revisited. This makes the implementation of long-term strategy very difficult and fuels the impression that Defence is inherently financially unstable.


The report concludes that the only solution is to move spending on Defence closer to 3% of GDP – approaching the level of investment made by the UK from the end of the Cold War until the mid-1990s.

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