§ 3. Mr. Frank Allaun
asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will make a further statement about the proposed increase in the current year's arms spending of £2,854 million a year by more than £400 million next year in cash terms.
§ Mr. Ian Gilmour
No, Sir. Details of defence expenditure in 1973–74 will be contained in the Defence White Paper, to be published next month.
§ Mr. Allaun
The Minister has already announced an increase in real terms. Since Britain is spending a higher proportion of its gross national product on arms than any other Western European NATO country except Portugal, should not we be reducing the level to their average, thereby saving £500 million a year? Why are we taking on this extra burden and the additional burdens in the next three years as shown by the recent Government survey?
§ Mr. Gilmour
The hon. Member knows the answers very well. For one thing we spend a far smaller proportion of our GNP on defence than the Russians 619 and we spend less on defence than some other European countries.
§ Mr. Gilmour
The exact figure will come out in the defence expenditure White Paper, but I believe it is about 5 per cent.
§ Mr. Crawshaw
Will the Minister indicate whether the other countries in Eastern Europe are now spending less on arms than they were last year or the year before?