Yesterday David Cameron laid before the House of Commons the Coalition Government’s planned cuts to the Armed Forces. I was in the Chamber for the announcement yesterday and the strong feeling amongst Conservative MPs was that the economic mess Labour left behind has meant that we will not be able to expect as much from our Armed Forces as we would like. That is why I am certain that the Strategic Defence and Security Review is based on a strategic assessment of Britain’s place in the world and the threats posed to us. It is not merely just a cost cutting exercise designed purely to cut the budget deficit, although Defence will need to contribute, as will other areas. While a strong economy is essential to national security, as David Cameron has pointed out time and again, the defence of the realm must be the Government’s first priority.
Turning to today’s announcements in the Spending Review by George Osborne, I believe that these will change the course of the country and will set our economy on a new path to recovery. The biggest risk to our economy would have been to do nothing to address the fiscal black hole left by Labour. The speed with which the Coalition Government acted, with an emergency budget 50 days within taking office, has already proved successful. Had we failed to act decisively in June’s Emergency Budget, our AAA credit rating would have vanished and interest rates would have soared.
The Government has demonstrated compassion to the most vulnerable by increasing the income tax threshold, and recognises that we must support effectively those who are unable to work while encouraging back to work those who can. I believe that a majority of the public understand the need for these cuts and the role of the Chancellor must be to reassure them that what the Government is doing is fair and in the best interests of the country as a whole.
I believe that we are right to tackle the deficit early because if we let the national debt grow, we will all pay more later. The private sector has already shown it is willing to take up the spare capacity left by the proposed reduction in size of the public sector. Once the economy has recovered the Government will be in a position to follow through with pro-growth economic measures. These combined measures will result in robust job creation and a vibrant economy. Everyone will be affected by today’s announcements and the Government is committed to ensuring that, as David Cameron said at the Conservative Party Conference, that we all act ‘together in the national interest’.