Britain's armed forces cannot take any further cuts so slash welfare bill instead, Defence Secretary tells Chancellor

  • Phillip Hammond says welfare budget should be slashed to reflect 'rising employment'
  • Minister says government's 'first priority' should be 'defending the country'

By Anna Edwards

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Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has warned he will fight further cuts to the armed forces in Chancellor George Osborne's forthcoming spending review.

After No 10 warned publicly last month that the military would not be immune from further financial retrenchment, Mr Hammond made clear that he would resist anything more than modest 'efficiency savings'.

He instead demanded the welfare budget should be slashed instead.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will resist any proposed cuts to the Armed Forces in George Osborne's budget
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will resist any proposed cuts to the Armed Forces in George Osborne's budget

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will resist any proposed cuts to the Armed Forces in George Osborne's budget.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said other Conservative Cabinet ministers believed that the greatest burden of any cuts should fall on the welfare budget.

There was, he said, a 'body of opinion within Cabinet who believes that we have to look at the welfare budget again', and that 'we should be seeing welfare spending falling' as a result of rising employment levels.

 

He said the 'first priority' for the Government should be 'defending the country and maintaining law and order' and that further defence cuts were not possible while meeting stated security objectives.

'I shall go into the spending review fighting the case for the defence budget on the basis that we have made very large cuts to defence, we've done that with the collaboration and co-operation of the military,' he said.

Mr Hammond said further defence cuts were not possible while meeting stated security objectives

Mr Hammond said further defence cuts were not possible while meeting stated security objectives

'Any further reduction in the defence budget would fall on the level of activity that we were able to carry out - the idea that expensively bought equipment may not be able to be used, expensively employed troops may not be able to be exercised and trained as regularly as they need to be.

'I am not going into the spending review offering any further reductions in personnel.'

Mr Hammond's comments are likely to be welcomed by Tory backbenchers who have been calling for a return to a core Conservative values in the wake of the party's trouncing in the Eastleigh by-election.

However they will also heighten tensions within the coalition, with the Liberal Democrats resisting a further squeeze on welfare spending.

It was being made clear Mr Hammond's comments were aimed particularly at the Lib Dems following remarks by senior Lib Dem ministers indicating that they believed welfare spending should be protected over defence.

A Whitehall source said: 'There is a real concern that the Lib Dems wants to protect the benefits culture at the expense of the armed forces'.

Former Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Michael Graydon, agreed with Mr Hammond's view.
He told BBC Radio 5: 'We have great capability gaps now, which we never had before.

'For example, we have no maritime patrol aircraft at all, we have no aircraft that can go on carriers - in fact we barely have carriers any longer.

'The army is now at a level, or will be shortly, it has never been that low for 200 years. That must surely worry people.'

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

- PEASANT existing in , PLEBLAND IN A NASTY ERA dis, United Kingdom, 03/3/2013 00:25 Complete rubbish, the military don't start the wars, the politicals do that, the mil just do the fighting while you sit at home spouting that rubbish. As for transfering the scientists from the MOD to Industry we have already done that. Sometimes works, sometimes not. Sadly it's more often not. Industry looks for the short term gain while the MOD scientist is generally looking to the long term.

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Cut welfare. far to many people getting far to much from far too many benefits. Cut benefits and make work look attractive. - freetothink , North Staffs, 03/3/2013 00:50 --------- We'll give you a rope and you can start hanging children - okay? Their little necks should break quite easily. Almost as easily as a soul it would seem.

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Cut welfare. far to many people getting far to much from far too many benefits. Cut benefits and make work look attractive. - freetothink , North Staffs, 03/3/2013 00:50 --------- We'll give you a rope and you can start hanging children - okay? Their little necks should break quite easily.

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We can't afford to kill enough of our people in increasingly useless and expensive wars so we'll just decide to kill off more of them at home instead. People die either way. Great policies for a great nation. Who said a government's role isn't to kill its own people? (Unless of course the people want the option to be able to die with dignity, in which case their government refuses to allow this)

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Our commie govt has f.....ed up repeatedly and wasted billions of dollars, on pie in the sky programms, then given themselves a pay rise. PM needed a wage increase of $90,000 after the worst performance of any aussie PM to date. Now she has taken $100 per week from struggling single parents. Cut defense back shockingly, (sound familiar?) In the private sector she was thrown out of her first job, walked to the door for unethical practice, some people want her jailed. Most loathed PM ever. Yet she wants to punish those on welfare.

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Once at it why he doesn't propose stopping the "expenses" the MP's get for ridiculous things like charging the taxpayer for their rent mortgage or the decoration of their own houses, even paper clips? I have a job and I don't expect my company to pay for my rent or my toilet paper so why should they? are they "the special ones"?

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Cut welfare. far to many people getting far to much from far too many benefits. Cut benefits and make work look attractive.

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Somebody should tell this snob that the armed forces in time of recession are the biggest money wasters and therefore their budget should be cut at least by 75% as they are not much use nowadays other than waste money in war games and war toys. Also, his friends in the banking sector should pay more back to the taxpayer and not to the ever greedy shareholders fat cats.

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Minister says government's 'first priority' should be 'defending the country AGAINST WHO ?? They are already here. Maybe we should start slashing Ministers wages and perks first. .

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I Think the overseas aid budget should be cut as we need the money for ourselves now,for our defence,welfare Education and NHS are more important.

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