James Gray MP - Defence DebateNorth Wiltshire MP James Gray has called for defence spending to rise towards three per cent during last week’s defence debate in Parliament. Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Mr Gray said:

“If we do not find a way of increasing our defence spending towards the 3% that many of us in the Chamber want, I fear that we will not be doing our duty. We will not be doing what our people send us here to do, and we will not be putting in place the correct way to defend our nation.”

Mr Gray also warned against any reduction in the current capabilities of the Armed Forces:

“If any such cuts were to take place - if HMS Bulwark were to go, for example, or if 1,000 people were to be cut from the Royal Marines - I want to make it plain that we would not go along with any such proposals from the Government.”

Finally, Mr Gray expressed his concerns about the current National Security Capability Review. Led by Mark Sedwill, National Security Adviser, the review is aimed at examining, across government, the policy and plans to deliver the National Security Strategy and to ensure that any investment in the required capabilities is efficient and effective. Defence is just one of thirteen individual strands considered. Mr Gray said:

“To have a national security review mixed in with a strategic defence review, and happening at a time that is not contingent with the national spending review, seems to be absolutely pointless and, indeed, substantially misleading.”

“It would seem perfectly logical and sensible, when carrying out a review, to start with the Foreign Office assessing the risk. The Cabinet Office should follow that by determining how much of that risk is to do with us—with policing or with cyber, for example. Those conclusions should then go to the Ministry of Defence, which would identify the threats to the nation and decide what to do about them. Subsequently, the Treasury should say, ‘Fine, that is what you want to do about the threat. Here is how we are going to find the money for it.’ ”

“I would like to see the defence part of the review separated out. It ought to be happening in the autumn of this year, at the same time as the Budget, in case we need more money to do what the Foreign Office says we ought to be doing.”