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As the Prime Minister prepard to chair a National Security Council meeting to discuss the options around the Strategic Defence and Security Review Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, the UK's aerospace, defence and security trade
organisation, highlighted the significance of decisions on defence spending
The Government needs to bear in mind that as well as the decision-maker on defence
it is also the customer. Its decisions have a profound impact on our armed forces
and the 300,000 people who work across the UK in the defence industry to support our
troops. The defence budget has been relatively flat with little in the way of
increases over the last 20 years while other Government departments have seen their
budgets double or even triple over the same time period. With our troops constantly
being asked to do more with less, the Government keen to increase exports and
defence able to deliver enhanced returns on investment - a £100m spend yields £227m
in returns - it makes no sense on any level to be cutting investment in defence
because of this knock-on effect on our armed forces and economic recovery. Defence
is 10 per cent of UK manufacturing and Britain is currently number one in Europe and
second only to the US in terms of the global defence exports market but this
position would be under threat if investment is cut, leading to a dearth of new
programmes to export.
Furthermore, the proposals for a greater reliance on high-technology equipment in
the future do not align with the cuts of over 20 per cent in the MoD research and
technology budget over the last three years - that have already cost hundreds of
high-skilled jobs in the industry. This budget, of less than 1.4 per cent of the
total defence budget, must be reprioritised within the MoD to deliver the future
capabilities for our armed forces.
There is of course room for reform within the armed forces, the industry and the
MoD to deliver even greater improvements and we are committed to playing a full part
in these changes that will also deliver savings. But the implications for any
further cuts in defence spending in terms of their impact on our troops, our
national security, our global trading position, our economy and on the long-term
capability of our industry to continue to supply the best possible equipment to our
armed forces cannot be ignored.