Iain Duncan Smith calls on the Secretary of State for Defence to learn from previous mistakes and ensure that armed forces modernisation proposals are properly funded.
May I welcome my right hon. Friend to his place? I have sat in this place for 25 years—as you know only too well, Mr Speaker—and, sadly, I know that every Government bring forward another statement about modernising the armed forces, but invariably end up spending less money on the armed forces, while leaving them under the same pressures.
May I urge my right hon. Friend, in the conduct of his office, to please learn from previous mistakes? For example, when we went into the Bosnia area we had a “just-in-time” equipment policy based on supermarkets. That was very modern, but it ended up with tanks up on the side of the road with no equipment because we could not get it to them “just in time”. War is an expensive and wasteful business. Will he please ensure that we do not repeat the nonsense of people saying, “You can modernise,” when actually they mean, “You cut”?
History teaches us many lessons, and we will try to learn as many of them as possible. My right hon. Friend has a lot of personal experience of the armed forces, and I welcome his contribution and thoughts on the review. We want the best armed forces possible. This is not an operation to take money off the armed forces; it is about ensuring that we get the armed forces and the support that we need, and recognising that they do the most amazing job for our country. That is what we hope to achieve as part of this review.