Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Thursday, 8 October 2009 12:47 UK

Tories 'to cut MoD costs by 25%'

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox said front-line services would not be cut

The Tories have asked civil servants to draw up plans to cut Ministry of Defence costs by 25% without reducing front-line troops.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox told the party's conference: "Some things will have to change and believe me, they will."

The BBC's Laura Kuenssberg said Mr Fox had asked for savings in bureaucracy - the MoD has 85,000 civil servants.

The Tories have pledged to cut overall Whitehall budgets by a third.

In his speech to party members in Manchester, Dr Fox accused Labour of creating "a black hole" in defence budgets, which was affecting the war in Afghanistan and threatening to create an "on-going defence crisis for years to come".

'Efficient as possible'

He also pointed to the need to redress the balance between civil servants and military personnel.

He said: "Frederick Duke of York was preparing for the Napoleonic threat between 1792 and 1804 he increased the size of the Army from 50,000 to nearly 500,000 - and he did it with 38 staff at Horse Guards.

It's not a crime to bring weight and experience into government with you
Liam Fox
Shadow defence secretary

"Now we have 99,000 in the Army and 85,000 civilians in the MoD. Some things will have to change and believe me, they will."

A party spokesman said the Tories wanted to "make government as efficient as possible".

"We don't believe that the MoD has got the balance right in terms of the amount of resources it devotes to the front line and the civil service," he said.

"On coming into office we intend to conduct a capabilities review to look at how we can get a better balance and achieve savings."

Morale

The Lib Dems have also pledged to axe 10,000 "desk jobs" at the MoD to fund a salary rise for junior armed forces personnel.

Dr Fox also told Conservatives at the party conference in Manchester that the Afghanistan mission was "winnable" but the government must "better define what we mean by winning and how we get there".

Ministers have accused the Conservatives of undermining the morale of troops in Afghanistan by raising questions about funding.

But Dr Fox said: "When I raise legitimate equipment concerns in my role as shadow defence secretary, I am not harming morale. Not having the equipment when you need it, that is what harms morale."

The former head of the Army General Sir Richard Dannatt is expected to be confirmed as a military adviser to the Tories later.

Dr Fox told the BBC: "It's not a crime to bring weight and experience into government with you, and I very much welcome Richard Dannatt as a member advising my team.



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