7 May 2024
Jesse Norman raises need to build consensus on defence spending

Speaking in a general debate on defence spending, Jesse Norman raises the need for heightened awareness of the seriousness of the current international threats and calls on the MOD to do more to build consent for increased spending on defence and the defence supply chain.

Jesse Norman (Hereford and South Herefordshire) (Con)

My right hon. Friend has compellingly described the current situation as moving from post-war to pre-war. Does he share my concern that the people of this country, as a whole, are not yet in a place to understand the seriousness of the problem, that there is in some sense, therefore, the beginnings of an issue of consent, and that it is harder than it should be for young people to get excited about joining some of our big contractors and supporting the work we are doing for our armed forces on diverse fronts around the country? If that is true, does he think that there is a specific role for the Ministry of Defence to lead the process of building consent across the UK?

The Secretary of State for Defence (Grant Shapps)

My right hon. Friend makes an excellent point. One issue we face is that if you are not Iranian or Russian and living in the UK, you may believe that this does not affect you too much. My entire argument—indeed, the argument I made at Lancaster House—is that this is not just something that impacts on foreign nationals in the distance; we are all, in effect, under attack. For evidence of that, we can see up and down the land the direct impact on every single family as Putin drove into Ukraine. Every single household budget in Britain was under attack. Remember, the winter before last we were paying up to half of the average family’s energy bill. This really does matter back home. It is again why I stress that defence is the cheapest version of looking after ourselves, not the most expensive one. That is why it is so important that, with Putin inflicting that inflation on British households and British business, we wake up to that fact and understand it. I actually think the British people do understand. They do want us to do more. It is popular to make sure that we properly defend these isles and defend our interests overseas. That is why this party has been proud to bring forward this big boost to our national defence.