HL Deb 28 November 1984 vol 457 cc1003-4WA
Lord Jenkins of Putney

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are their estimates of American defence expenditure, total NATO defence expenditure, Soviet defence expenditure and total Warsaw Pact expenditure on defence, calculated on a consistent basis for each of the years 1980–84, with the countries included in the NATO calculations specified.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces (Lord Trefgarne)

The table below sets out United States and total NATO defence expenditure for the years requested.

Defence Expenditur
(Current Prices)
1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
United States ($ bn) 144.0 169.9 196.4 217.4 257.5
Total NATO ($ bn) 256.3 272.7 297.5 317.0 376.1

Neither the Soviet Union nor the Non-Soviet Warsaw Pact countries publish reliable figures for defence expenditure; our most recent estimates for the Soviet Union are set out below. Comparable estimates for the remaining Warsaw Pact countries are not available.

1980 1981 1982 1983 1984
Estimated actual expenditure (in billions of current roubles) 83–89 85–91 89–95 96–103 n.a.

The published Soviet figures for defence expenditure are 17.1 billion roubles for each of the five years in question. These figures present a totally inaccurate impression of both the scale and the trend of defence expenditure and are incompatible with known force levels.


(1) The NATO definition of defence expenditure is used.

(2) US and total NATO figures for 1984 are provisional.

(3) The figures for the Soviet Union are all estimates and as such are subject to revision.

(4) Where appropriate, figures have been adjusted to a calendar year basis.

(5) The total NATO line comprises the defence expenditure of NATO's 16 members, including France, but excluding both Spain, which does not report details of defence expenditure to NATO, and Iceland, which does not appropriate funds for defence.

(6) Non-US NATO defence expenditures have been converted to US dollars using average market exchange rates for the year in question; these do not necessarily reflect the relative purchasing powers of the currencies concerned. Care should also be taken in interpreting the US's share of NATO expenditure owing to the effects of exchange rate movements.

(7) The estimates of Soviet expenditure are in roubles. The official rate of exchange between the rouble and US dollar does not adequately reflect the purchasing power of the rouble. It is not possible, therefore, to convert the estimate for the Soviet Union into dollars.

(8) Considerable caution is required when attempting to compare levels of expenditure, owing to the varying cost structures to be found in the defence budgets of NATO member countries compared to the Soviet Union. In themselves the figures do not provide a realistic guide to the volume of weapons being made available to the respective armed forces.