Stephen Morgan MP has called on the Government to increase defence spending and invest it back into the UK industry. This comes after BAE Systems announced plans to cut almost 2,000 jobs, including 340 in Portsmouth due to current uncertainties and lack of confidence in the industry.
By 2020, nearly 25 pence in every pound of defence spending will be in US factories, as confirmed at a briefing with defence workers and Members of Parliament today.
There is serious concern that current defence spending plans are based on significant savings being made despite it not yet being disclosed where these savings are going to fall. The Royal Navy plans to take two minehunters out of service and the Government has refused to rule out decommissioning HMS Bulwark and HMS Albion – the only Navy warships with amphibious capability.
Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South, who met with BAE Systems workers in the House of Commons today, said:
“Scraping past our NATO-mandated commitment on defence spending is simply not good enough. 2% will not keep our country safe and will not protect jobs. In the 1980s, defence spending was at 5% of GDP, and even as recently as the 1990s it was at 3%.
The Government have repeatedly dodged questions seeking clarification and assurance on the future of our military, the Royal Navy in particular. They’ve refused to give industry the certainty it needs to sustain skill bases and protect jobs.”
There is also growing concern that an increasing reliance on foreign suppliers is weakening the UK’s sovereign capability and providing poor value for money.
The recently announced shipbuilding strategy invites overseas shipyards to bid for contracts for the building of the new Type 31e frigates; in the last decade, approximately 50,000 jobs have been lost from the UK defence manufacturing industry.
“The MoD will spend £178bn on defence in the next ten years. All I’m asking is that the Government prioritises investment into our own shipyards and factories, rather than farming out yet more contracts abroad.
I’m seriously concerned about the hollowing out of our sovereign capability. Relying on other nations to supply our military not only threatens UK jobs, but our security too. What’s more, buying British represents great value for money. RUSI estimates that 36 per cent of the value of government orders in the UK defence sector is returned to the Treasury via taxation.
The Government needs urgently to show its commitment to our nation’s defence, and those who work so hard to secure it, by spending more and spending here.”