ANONYMOUS A Royal Scots Dragoon Guard takes a break in the turret of a Challenger tank after a long night of fighting in Southern Iraq during Iraq War 24032003 CREDIT PA.
Politics

One-Year Spending Review 'Damaging' For Defence

Former military chiefs have warned against the decision during Lords question time.

ANONYMOUS A Royal Scots Dragoon Guard takes a break in the turret of a Challenger tank after a long night of fighting in Southern Iraq during Iraq War 24032003 CREDIT PA.

The Chancellor's decision to scrap plans for a long-term comprehensive spending review due to the coronavirus pandemic has been criticised by former defence chiefs.

Lord West of Spithead, former first sea lord, said the decision to opt for a one-year review instead would be "very damaging to defence".

At Lords question time, Lord West said military equipment procurement was a relatively long-term business and a clear statement was needed on how ministers saw the UK's position in the world.

The Labour peer called for a foreign policy review early next year to take account of "which way the US is heading" and future relationships with the EU.

Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon said his department was pursuing international priorities in an integrated manner.

Former chief of the defence staff Lord Stirrup said a number of pending defence capital investment programmes were crucial to both the UK's future military capability and the "prosperity agenda" but a one-year financial settlement "risks crippling them".

Lord Stirrup said such important strategic issues must be decided by "informed debate and not pre-empted by short-term Treasury fiat".

Lord Ahmad said the Government continued to "stand by" the Armed Forces and was investing an additional £2.2bn in defence over this year and next.

Lord Craig of Radley, another former chief of defence staff and independent crossbench peer, said a nuclear deterrent lacked credibility unless underpinned by modern conventional capabilities.

Anonymous sailors onboard HMS Queen Elizabeth during naming ceremony 040714 CREDIT MOD
(Picture: MOD).

He said the current resilience and fighting strength of the three armed services was "less than adequate" and must be improved rapidly as part of the review.

Lord Ahmad said the increased funding underlined the importance and priority the Government attached to defence capabilities.

The Treasury recently announced its spending review would be reduced to one year from three, causing the Government to consider the implications for the completion of the Integrated Review.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace told the House of Commons on Monday the Integrated Review's future will be discussed in more detail "once we have thought through those consequences" of the Treasury's announcement.

The Integrated Review was expected to be published in mid to late-November 2020, in parallel with the cross-Government Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).

It was temporarily paused in April due to the coronavirus pandemic but resumed in June.

At its launch in February, it was described as the largest review into British defence, foreign and security policy since the end of the Cold War.

Cover image: PA.