Ben Wallace close up 220920 CREDIT PA
Politics

Ben Wallace: Defence And Foreign Aid 'Not Mutually Exclusive'

The Defence Secretary was asked whether £16.5bn of extra funding for the military would mean less money for the foreign aid budget.

Ben Wallace close up 220920 CREDIT PA

The Defence Secretary says the Chancellor will set out where billions of pounds of additional funding for the military has come from.

The Prime Minister is to announce a £16.5bn increase to the Ministry of Defence's (MOD) budget over the next four years - billed by Downing Street as the biggest programme of investment in the Armed Forces since the end of the Cold War.

It marks the first phase of the Government’s Integrated Review of the UK’s foreign, defence, development and security policy, with the final conclusions due to be unveiled next year.

Number 10 says the increased funding will allow the Government to invest in cutting-edge technology, positioning the UK as a global leader in domains such as cyber and space, as well as addressing any current weaknesses.

A new agency dedicated to Artificial Intelligence (AI) will also be announced by the Prime Minister, in addition to the creation of a National Cyber Force and a new Space Command that the Government claims will launch its first rocket in 2022.

Ben Wallace told Sky News: "Part of Britain’s overseas assistance is defence and security.

Mr Wallace insisted the Government was not "abandoning the battlefield of international aid", but stated the "decisions on the numbers" will be revealed by the Chancellor next week.

"Do I support more money for defence? Yes I do, that’s why I put in for a bid. Did I get it? Where it comes from is a matter for the Chancellor," he added.

Semi anon 7 SCOTS reservists during training at Barry Buddon

In an interview with Good Morning Britain, Mr Wallace repeated that more details over the new funding would be "revealed next week" by the Chancellor, adding that foreign aid and military spending are not "mutually exclusive".

"If you can't distribute food in a country because of Islamist terrorism, there's simply no point in trying to have a food programme.

"No one is suggesting we are going to cut all foreign aid.

"You have to value [the Armed Forces] with money - you can't just say things as a nation, we have to invest in them, in their training and their equipment."

The Defence Secretary told Sky News: "I’ve been very clear as Defence Secretary that one of the failures of the past reviews was our funding never matched our ambition – that goes for most of the reviews in the last 40 years.

"This means that we can have a proper discussion about what are our global ambitions and how are we going to fund it.

Mr Wallace added the funds will allow the Government to "modernise our forces", telling BBC Breakfast he had seen the Armed Forces using "equipment that was out-of-date".

"I saw our adversaries across the world having better equipment, the ability to attack us and harm us getting wider and wider from our capabilities," he told BBC Breakfast, adding that the UK needed to "move with the threat".

The shadow defence secretary John Healey MP said of the new funding: "This signals a welcome and long overdue upgrade to Britain’s defences after a decade of decline.

"Since 2010 the size of the Armed forces has been cut by a quarter, defence spending was cut by over £8 billion and the defence budget has a £13 billion black hole."

Cover image: PA.