Former Defence Secretary Warns Defence Cuts Could be "The End" for Amphibious Capability
(Source: British Forces News; issued Nov 23, 2017)
A former defence secretary has warned that spending less on the military does not make the UK more secure. Arguing the need for increased funding, Labour peer Lord Hutton of Furness said a current national security capability review was "about money".

His comments come amid reports that the Royal Marines could be cut and the amphibious assault ships, HMS Albion and HMS Bulwark, taken out of service.

The former MP said he was "absolutely opposed" to any move that would see "the end of our effective amphibious capability". He told peers that the two new aircraft carriers could not fulfil the same role.

Lord Hutton was speaking during a debate on British defence forces in the House of Lords, where former military chiefs joined in the call for more cash.

Of the Government's current capability assessment, he said: "There's only one obvious conclusion to reach and this is really a review about money."

Lord Hutton added: "I am absolutely opposed to the United Kingdom acting unilaterally, for example, by announcing the end of our effective amphibious capability."

The former secretary of state said he was in favour of looking at how to use overall aid and defence budgets together "to secure greater security results".

But he told peers: "I think it is hard to avoid the obvious conclusion that we are going to need to spend more now to preserve UK effective capabilities.

"The painful lesson from history is that spending less on defence doesn't make us more secure, it doesn't make those threats go away, it just makes us less able to deal with them."

Former army chief Lord Danna also said that the nation’s security was the first duty of a responsible government. He added: "There are well-founded fears that our defence capability is to be cut once again."

"The real world is options can quickly become decisions and then the damage is done. In 1996 axing the royal yacht was an option, but threat option became a decision saving a paltry £60 million and did lasting damage to the standing of the United Kingdom and great hurt to Her Majesty."

He also called for 0.25% of the aid budget to be switched to defence, which he said would deliver up to an extra £5 billion for the military.


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