UK Armed Forces Debate

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Department: Ministry of Defence
Tuesday 12th March 2024

(4 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Lord Coaker Portrait Lord Coaker (Lab)
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My Lords, how will the state of the UK Armed Forces be helped by the cuts to defence spending announced in the Budget? Table 2.1 in the Red Book shows defence resource spending cut from £35 billion in 2023-24 to £32.8 billion in 2024-25, and table 2.2 shows defence capital spending cut from £19.2 billion in 2023-34 to £18.9 billion in 2024-25. How on earth does that defence spending cut help the state of our Armed Forces?

Earl of Minto Portrait The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (The Earl of Minto) (Con)
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My Lords, I will say something about the Armed Forces to start off with. Our Armed Forces are, at all times, ready to protect and defend the UK. We continue to meet all operational commitments, including supporting Ukraine in the face of Putin’s illegal and unjust invasion and tackling Houthi aggression in the Red Sea. The Royal Navy contributes 25% of NATO’s maritime strength, which has four times as many ships and three times as many submarines as Russia. The RAF has greater lift capacity than at any time since the Second World War. The Army was globally deployed in 67 countries last year, with 14,000 troops deployed on exercises and operations across Europe. We are rightly proud of all their efforts.

On the money side, I have gone into this in quite some detail, and it is the difference between budget and outturn. Budget is a figure struck at the beginning of the financial year, and outturn is what actually gets spent by the end of the financial year. In 2023-24, the budget was £51.4 billion and the outturn was £54.2 billion. This year, the budget is £51.7 billion and the outturn is £55.6 billion—a 1.8% increase of £1.4 billion.