Defence cuts to be 'resisted'

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has warned he will resist further cuts to the armed forces in Chancellor George Osborne's forthcoming spending review. He said Cabinet ministers believed the greatest burden of cuts should fall on the welfare budget.

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Lib Dem push for welfare saw Hammond speak out

Vince Cable and Danny Alexander's comments apparently provoked Philip Hammond. Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond spoke out against prospective cuts to the armed forces following comments by Lib Dem ministers Danny Alexander and Vince Cable, a Whitehall source has said.

Their calls for welfare to be protected and defence to be cut apparently prompted their Conservative Cabinet colleague to go public.

"There is a real concern that the Lib Dems wants to protect the benefits culture at the expense of the armed forces," the source said.

Labour: 'Gulf between government's rhetoric and reality'

Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy Credit: Dave Thompson/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Jim Murphy MP, Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary, has responded to Philip Hammond's comments on the Ministry of Defence budget.

He said:

"There is a gulf between the Government's rhetoric and reality.

"The country now has an aircraft carrier with no planes to fly from for years as well as the smallest army since the Boer War.

"Even then Defence Secretary has failed to balance the defence budget. We will judge the Defence Secretary on the cold reality of his actions rather than today's warm words."

Tory MP expects strong support for defence policy

Tory backbencher Mark Pritchard has said that Philip Hammond could expect strong support from Conservative MPs over his stance to curb cuts to defence.

"Defence cuts have gone far enough," he said.

"There will be zero political support from Conservative backbenchers for any additional cuts beyond those already announced in the SDSR.

"The Treasury needs to look elsewhere for additional savings."

Sir Menzies Campbell welcomes Hammond's defence stance

Former Liberal Democrat leader Sir Menzies Campbell has welcomed Philip Hammond's views on cuts to defence:

At last a defence secretary has publicly recognised that the long-running drip drip reduction in defence spending has materially eroded capability and seriously restricted the military options open to a British prime minister.

The truth is that our publicly stated ambitions now significantly exceed our capacity.

– Sir Menzies Campbell

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Further cuts will 'erode military capability'

Philip Hammond has told the BBC that he will not be able to make further cuts "without eroding military capability."

We won't be able to make further cuts without eroding military capability.

Of course I understand the Chancellor's challenge. He has to find additional savings in order to consolidate the public finances as we have to do but we need to look broadly across government at how we are going to do that, not just narrowly at a few departments.

– Philip Hammond

Defence cuts are 'a matter of risk analysis'

The leader of a prominent defence and security think thank has said that the approach to defence cuts is one of risk analysis.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Professor Michael Clarke, director-general of the Royal United Services Institute, said:

It's all a matter of risk analysis. If you don't think that the Armed Forces will be doing as much in the next five to eight years once Afghanistan is in the rear-view mirror then you might take that risk.

The Armed Forces have been continuously in operation since 1991 when the Cold War came to an end so it would be a bit optimistic to think that that process which has gone on now for over 20 years would suddenly stop once we withdraw from Afghanistan.

– Professor Michael Clarke

'Clegg doesn't see defence as important' says Hammond

Philip Hammond has said that Nick Clegg does not view defence as an important area.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the Secretary of State for Defence, said:

I am a Conservative. The kind of Conservatism I was brought up on says that the first priority of the government is defending the country and maintaining law and order.

Those are the two top priorities for me.

We’ve got no Lib Dems, because, apparently, Nick Clegg doesn’t regard defence as an important area.

– Philip Hammond, Secretary of State for Defence

Cabinet 'will look to welfare budget to cut spending'

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said there was a "body of opinion within Cabinet who believes that we have to look at the welfare budget again", and that "we should be seeing welfare spending falling" as a result of rising employment levels.

He said the "first priority" for the Government should be "defending the country and maintaining law and order" and that further defence cuts were not possible while meeting stated security objectives.

I shall go into the spending review fighting the case for the defence budget on the basis that we have made very large cuts to defence, we've done that with the collaboration and co-operation of the military.

Any further reduction in the defence budget would fall on the level of activity that we were able to carry out - the idea that expensively bought equipment may not be able to be used, expensively employed troops may not be able to be exercised and trained as regularly as they need to be.

I am not going into the spending review offering any further reductions in personnel.

– Defence Secretary Philip Hammond

Read: Defence Secretary will 'resist cuts to armed forces'.

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