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CSR Tuesday, 18 July, 2000, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Defence spending boost
Defence spending: up for the first time in over a decade
The defence budget will go up from just under 23 billion this year to almost 25bn in the financial year 2003-2004, Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced.

Next year the budget will rise in real terms by 0.1%, or 400 million, followed by real growth of 0.2% and 0.7% in the following two years.

After tough negotiations between ministers and defence chiefs, the spending boost represents the first real-term increase in defence spending since 1985.

There were also reports the defence settlement was changed at the last minute after a personal appeal by the Chief of Defence Staff Sir Charles Guthrie to Tony Blair.

An extra 200m this year has also been announced in addition to the extra money in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

Cuts reversed

The spending boost reverses some of the cuts imposed by this government in its strategic defence review.

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon said it was a "vote of confidence" in the armed forces.

"It is recognition of the important and magnificent work done by the armed forces since this government came to power: in Kosovo, in Sierra Leone, in the Gulf, East Timor and elsewhere - helping people who cannot help themselves," he said.

He acknowledged that there had been constraints on defence in recent times.

"The government is serious about relieving those strains, and correcting those deficiencies.

The new money will help to do that," he said.

Defence sources said there would be two spending priorities for the money - the first being new smart missiles for RAF planes.

The MoD will also invest in better ground-to-air communications equipment to put right weaknesses exposed in the Kosovo campaign, and improved living quarters for married and single men in the armed forces.

However, one source said, "it is not an absolute bonanza."

"We are not going to be announcing big new spending projects."

See also:

06 Jul 00 | UK
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