HC Deb 03 November 1980 vol 991 cc478-80W
Mr. Churchill

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish, at 1980 constant prices, defence expenditure on outturn in each year since 1970–71 to date, including the best estimate for out-turn in 1980–81 and the levels of expenditure planned for the years to 1983–84, indicating the percentage increase or decrease year on year.

Mr. Pym

At 1980 survey prices—that is autumn 1979 price levels—the information requested is as follows:

Year* Outturn £million Percentage change
1970–71 9,542 −0.4
1971–72 9,638 +1.0
1972–73 9,518 −1.2
1973–74 9,386 −1.4
1974–75 9,010 −4.0
1975–76 9,435 +4.7
1976–77 9,287 −1.6
1977–78 9,081 −2.2
1978–79 9,025 −0.6
1979–80 9,292 +3.0

The value of the outturn for the current financial year, expressed at 1980 survey prices, will depend amongst other things, upon the rate of inflation and the level of the exchange rate over the remainder of the financial year. The outturn is expected to be 2–3 per cent. higher in real terms than in 1979–80.

Forward plans for defence expenditure were published in Cmnd. 7841 and provide for real defence spending to rise over the period of the public expenditure survey by 3 per cent. a year in real terms in line with the agreed NATO aim.

Note (1) the definition of defence expenditure prior to the 1975–76 figure is not completely consistent with that used in later years.

Mr. Churchill

asked the Secretary of State for Defence by how much Her Majesty's Government have increased or decreased defence expenditure compared to the commitments for defence expenditure as at May 1979; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Pym

The previous Government committed themselves to aim for real increases in defence spending in the region of 3 per cent. a year and the plan for 1979–80 in their last public expenditure White Paper (Cmnd. 7439) of January 1979 was framed accordingly. Real growth of 3 per cent. in 1979–80 was achieved because this Government increased defence cash by £549 million. Statements by Labour Party spokesmen make clear that had they remained in office, they would not have achieved 3 per cent. growth last year.