Sunday, 24 Sep 2023

‘National scandal!’ Tory MP warns money being spent ‘very badly’ on defence kit

Tory MP brands defence procurement a ‘scandal’

A Conservative MP has warned defence procurement is a “national scandal”.

Bob Seely, a former soldier, said money has been spent “very badly” on military kit “for years”.

But the Isle of Wight MP said Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, who is seen as highly competent, is “now trying to solve this”.

Mr Seely also said defence spending, which stood at 2.1 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year, should be bumped up.

He told GB News: “I’d advocate more than we’re doing at the moment. But it’s not a question of how much money because you can spend that money very badly as we know on procurement where it’s still a national scandal.

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“Some of our kit is billions over budget and still doesn’t work and gives you back ache and ear ache if you’re using it.

“The procurement in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been a scandal for years. To Ben Wallace’s credit he is now trying to solve this.”

Mr Seely’s comments come after the Armed Forces Continuous Attitude Survey found less than one in three British troops believe their equipment is good enough.

Meanwhile, a report by the Public Accounts Committee in April into the MoD’s Equipment Plan said there were “recurring” problems with defence procurement programmes.

It said equipment “arrives into service many years late and significantly over-budget, with depressing regularity”.

At the time, the government department said it did not “recognise” the claims, adding that it delivers the “vast majority” of projects on time and in budget”.

Elsewhere during the interview, Mr Seely – who sits on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee – praised Britain for leading the way in providing military equipment to Ukraine.

But he suggested the response from other countries in Europe has been found wanting.

The Conservative MP said: “We’re doing lots of great stuff and we’ve led the way and actually congratulations to the previous Boris government and the Rishi government.

“But it’s the Americans that are supplying about 85 percent of the kit.

“Considering the EU’s economic size, our ability to support the Ukrainians has been pretty poor. When I say our I mean Europe as a whole.

“I think we’ve been pretty good, I think the Americans have been pretty good but I think Europe’s been lacking.”

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Mr Seely said Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is “going badly” but added that the idea he has lost the war is “not true”.

He said: “Russia still occupies 20 percent of Ukraine and if they keep occupying that for the next year or two then actually Putin is winning. So the idea Putin’s lost this war I don’t buy.”

Mr Seely also warned of the prospect of the desperate Russian leader resorting to tactical nuclear weapons, which are designed to be used on the battlefield.

He said: “I think we underestimate the potential for Russians to use tactical nuclear weapons.

“I did a study for the Heritage Institute a few months ago and there was a recent study put out by a retired US general who said actually the likelihood of using this is higher than we think.

“It is horrifying. But on the balance of probabilities, the Russians probably won’t do it because the Chinese and the Indians would effectively withdraw their support significantly.

“But Putin always escalates out of a crisis, how is he going to escalaTe out of this crisis apart from another round of mobilisation, more artillery, more strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, which isn’t working.”

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