Column: 4 November 2010

The measures to save the country £81bn over the next four years are generally positive. However, I have been vocal in my opposition to a number of cuts which I fear could pose a threat both to Gainsborough and the rest of the country.

The RAF and Navy are set to lose 5000 personnel each over the next four years and we will effectively be left without a functional aircraft carrier for a decade. As I said during a speech in the House of Commons on Thursday, cuts to the navy partly inspired me to become involved in politics in the early ‘80s. The very next year, Argentina invaded the Falklands. This demonstrates that it is nearly impossible to know what might happen over the next months, let alone decades. Britain can be immensely proud of the Armed Forces and we never know when they might suddenly be needed. Money is tight, but it is important to consider our priorities when we cut services. In the short term, we might save some money by risking our security, but for the £900m we save by scrapping Harrier and the £750m we will save by postponing the decisions to renew Trident, we are still to increase our contribution to the EU by £2 billion and our overseas aid budget by over £3 billion – costs which are many times higher than our savings.

It is also possible that scientific and research industries could suffer as a result of the cuts, jeopardising our chances of long term recovery. Technologies account for a large proportion of our economic output and by scrapping projects such as the Nimrod Spy Plane, we run a risk of losing the skills which enable us to be competitive on the international market.

In Gainsborough, I am particularly concerned about the future of RAF Scampton. I have written to Liam Fox, Secretary of State for Defence, to seek assurance that we will not lose this brilliant facility, which begun its distinguished career defending our skies against the Kaiser’s Zeppelins in WWI. Today the base provides more than 600 military and civilian jobs and is a valuable stimulus to business in the area. I don’t want it being cut.

Posted by Edward Leigh | November 4th, 2010

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