§ Mr. Arthur Lewis
asked the Secretary of State for Defence why, in view of the Government's policy on defence expenditure, defence costs have risen from £1,898 million in 1964–65 to an estimated £2,271 million in the current year; and when he expects to be able to reduce this expenditure below the 1964–65 figure.
§ Mr. Healey
The Government's first task on assuming office was to arrest a rising trend in defence expenditure. This purpose has been achieved, and our initial decisions themselves contributed to the 1964–65 outturn figure which my hon. Friend quotes. At constant prices the 1968–69 Estimate is within about 1 per cer cent. of the 1964–65 outturn, and expressed as a percentage of G.N.P. the same figures represent a fall from about 6½ per cent. to about 6 per cent. Thus we expect to achieve a year earlier than planned the target set in Cmnd. 2901 Chapter I.128W
On the second part of the Question, I cannot add to the information given in the Supplementary Statement on Defence Policy published today.