The Scottish Government has raised the alarm over military bases in Scotland after a Commons committee report warned that Britain’s armed forces need a significant hike in funding to fill “black holes” in their finances
MPs on the Commons defence committee said defence spending had to rise from 2 per cent to 3 per cent of total GDP in order to meet the growing threat from Russia.
A cash injection on that scale would cost around £20 billion a year, bringing defence spending to levels last seen in the mid-1990s.
Keith Brown, the Scottish Government’s economy secretary, said the report underlines “significant financial pressures” on the armed forces and said he would ask ministers for assurances about spending in Scotland at a meeting this week.
“Scotland has previously suffered brutal cuts to both military personnel and bases, with a further eight defence sites due for closure under MoD’s ill-conceived basing plans,” the Falklands veteran said. “I have repeatedly called on the Secretary of State for Defence to ensure that the on-going Modernising Defence Programme (MDP) will not result in further cuts in Scotland and that previous promises to base 12,500 regular armed forces personnel in Scotland by 2020 be honoured.”
In the report, entitled Beyond 2 Per Cent, MPs argue that a new financial settlement for defence is the “only solution” at a time when the UK faces a renewed threat from Russia, as well as increasing challenges from terrorism and cyber-warfare.
The committee warns of “serious deficiencies in the quantities of armour, armoured vehicles and artillery available to the British Army”.
Lack of vehicle-mounted anti-tank weapons and self-propelled artillery, as well as the need for modernisation of rocket artillery, leaves the army “at serious risk of being outgunned by its Russian counterpart”, it said.
The committee also warns that the Royal Navy must have enough ships to put together a carrier group to defend new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers without depending on other states.
Reports at the weekend revealed that two of the navy’s new Type 45 destroyers have not left port in over a year after engine problems were uncovered that mean they can’t operate in warm waters.
Findings from the MDP are expected in the coming weeks.