Posts Tagged ‘government evasion’

Tuesday’s defence debate shows this government needs to get a grip on the figures

28/06/2012, 04:17:13 PM

by Kevan Jones

Since taking office Ministers have repeatedly told the country that Defence cuts must be quick and deep due to a “£38 billion black hole” inheritance in the MoD budget. Yet there is another story. Public body after public body has questioned the validity of the £38bn figure.  This has, of course, now become folklore, but we must scrutinise the claim that underpins the legitimacy of all the government are doing.

The Defence select committee’s report into the SDSR stated that ‘without proper detailed figures’ the government’s claims about the extent of the black hole ‘cannot be verified’.

The National Audit Office has correctly concluded that ‘the size of the gap is highly sensitive to the budget growth… If the Defence budget remained constant in real terms…the gap would now be £6 billion over the ten years. If…there was no increase in the defence budget in cash terms over the same ten year period, the gap would rise to £36 billion’. Cursory scrutiny shows that the defence budget is rising in cash terms. Ministers have said they will make public statements on this but are yet to produce any detail of how this figure has been arrived at.

Within months of this government coming into power the former secretary of state, Liam Fox, had claimed that he had balanced the budget. Now we’ve had Philip Hammond say exactly the same thing. If the ‘black hole’ is as large as they have alleged, how have two secretaries of state been able to claim twice separately that the imbalance has been rectified?

In a defence debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday not a single government minister or MP could explain how the “black hole” figure was reached.


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