Defence

I was in the Commons on Wednesday to witness another round of Prime Minister's Questions.

As so often now, it began on a sombre note as Gordon Brown read out the names of another three British soldiers killed in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of UK fatalities to 275, adding to the 179 lost in Iraq.

Whilst I believe that our forces should be out there and need to complete the job, it’s a tragic reminder of the sacrifice our brave troops are making.

And I believe that if we are going to send our troops to war, the Government has a moral duty to provide them with the tools to do the job.

There has been a lot of debate recently about whether the Government has equipped our troops properly, with Gordon Brown telling the Chilcot inquiry that defence spending has risen every year since 1997.

But during PMQs we had the startling admission from the Prime Minister that, in fact, defence spending fell in four of those years. Not only had he got his facts wrong but, more importantly, he was admitting that defence spending had been cut at a time when our troops were fighting in two wars.

So I think Sir John Chilcot should recall Mr Brown to the inquiry and get some clarity on this. At the moment we’ve got the PM claiming that our troops have been given everything they need and three former defence chiefs saying they have been underfunded. They can’t both be right, but I know who I believe.

Thirteen years of Labour has seen our forces undermanned, overstretched and starved of equipment. Labour has broken the military covenant which demands that we treat our service personnel and their families with care and respect in recognition of the sacrifices they make for us all.

On Sunday I’ll be attending a concert in West Chiltington organised by Help for Heroes. This charity gives fantastic support to the men and women wounded in conflict. If you would like to come along, the event starts in the village hall at 3pm.

Michelle Taylor