HC Deb 01 March 1967 vol 742 cc475-6
2. Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the gross national product it would be necessary to spend to give Great Britain adequate forces to meet existing commitments.

Mr. Healey

At present 6.6 per cent., though I hope shortly to reduce it to about 6.5 per cent.

Rear-Admiral Morgan Giles

Can the Secretary of State say why and how he feels that he can pin the defence spending to an exact percentage like that, regardless of the commitments with which he may be faced?

Mr. Healey

It has been the practice of every Government to make Defence Estimates just before a financial year, to give the best estimate that they can of the cost of the forces required to fulfil their commitments during the following year. This Government is no exception to the rule.

Mr. Goodhew

How can the right hon. Gentleman suggest a particular percentage when he does not know what will happen to the gross national product?

Mr. Healey

I take the best estimate that I can get from my colleagues in other Departments.