Sir Michael Fallon The Andrew Marr Show

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Sir Michael Fallon

Recorded coverage of Andrew Marr interviewing defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, from Sunday 14 May.

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Now Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, has been used by the


prime list as her faithful attack dog. I think it is fair to say he is


not a massive fan of Jeremy Corbyn but he has plenty of questions to


answer about the state of the Armed Forces under the Conservatives.


In 2015 the Conservatives made a solemn promise about the size


of the Armed Forces, can you remind us of the promise?


We said we would build the army up to 82000 by 2020.


What is the size of the Armed Forces?


We said we would build up forces, including reserves


The quote was, we will maintain the size of the regular armed


services and not reduce the army to below 82000 and the current


figure is 79,000, so you have broken that promise.


We said we would do it over the parliament


Increasing the size of the Army up to 2020,


We have recruitment campaigns, increasing the size of the Navy,


the size of the Royal Air Force and we are determined to improve


the offer we make to service men and women to attract the best


At the moment recruitment is going badly and you are not


getting enough into the army, you were meant to get 9500 in this


year and it is 6000, you are going backwards.


We have several years before we reach our target


but we are spending more on the Armed Forces.


The budget goes up every year and we are giving them


You said I don't accept those figures.


The figures, the target was 9580 to join last year and the figure


That is why top brass are worried about you and the army under you.


We cannot force people to join, we do not have conscription,


the Army has to compete with other sectors.


It was a promise over the parliament and we are only two


years into the parliament and we are spending money


on recruiting and giving the Armed Forces equipment they need.


You have seen aircraft carriers being built,


we are buying new aircraft, and investing in


You said you will increase defence spending by 0.5% above inflation.


That costs roughly over the five years of the new parliament added


to the two years of the last parliament giving the forces roughly


?1 billion more than if we had simply met the 2% target.


The money comes from the growing economy and it was a commitment


we made, choice to spend more on the health service


and defence and we have reduce spending in other areas.


So this is an underfunded commitment, you are


The money has to come from somewhere.


Borrowing is slowly going to be reduced but it comes from a growing


economy is the real answer, because we are running


the economy efficiently and because the economy is growing,


more people in work, more revenue coming in,


and we can make choices, not wild spending and borrowing


promises like Labour but to spend more on the NHS and defence.


According to the Defence Select Committee and Times newspaper


there is a black hole in your equipment budget


We are planning the biggest equipment programme in generations.


New aircraft carriers, frigates, maritime patrol aircraft,


Part of the cost has to come from efficiency savings,


getting rid for example of land, barracks, buildings we do not need,


being more efficient in the way we work.


7.3 billion over the 10-year period, over the five-year period,


I'm sorry, of efficiency savings on top of savings already made


which means if you have airfields you do not need you shut them down.


We have 60 airfields, we do not need 60.


You have to be more efficient as a large organisation


It is absolutely right to invest in that programme we have


to reinvest efficiency savings we make.


The big change is we keep all the efficiency savings.


The Treasury does not take them back.


You have not persuaded your top brass who wrote a letter


It says that your statements about the defence budget have been


disingenuous quoting irrelevant financial statistics and they say,


the government boasts of spending 2% of GDP on defence,


widely criticised as a deception and the Armed Forces are having


to seek damaging savings at a time when combat operations


The 2% is not our figure, it is the Nato figure.


It is the way you have netted a or criticising. -- you have met it they


are criticising. The Secretary General of Nato


was in London this week seeing myself on the Prime Minister


and he confirmed publicly according to the Nato definitions,


we are meeting 2%, almost 2.2%. It is other countries that are not


spending up to the 2% and he confirmed our spending


is defined according These are former chiefs


of defence staff. Have you ever met somebody covered


in brass, a former defence chief They are passionate about defence


and so am I and I am proud It was 35 billion last year


and 36 billion this year and will go up to 40 billion and we will invest


the biggest equipment programme the Armed Forces have seen


in generations and to do that we have to be more efficient


about the way we work. What this government has not


invested in is defences You did not give the NHS the proper


money to stop this cyber attack In the security review over a year


and a few months ago we identified cyber threats as one of the three


principal threats and set aside ?1.9 billion to protect us better


against cyber and a chunk of that We are spending around ?50 million


on the NHS cyber systems to improve security and have encouraged NHS


trusts to reduce exposure Less than 5% of the trusts


use that system. There is money available


to strengthen these systems. You did not pay for them


to strengthen that system It was an old system


we did not want them to use. We warned them and we warned them


again in the spring. It is the fault of the trusts, not


the government, is that what you are saying?


We all have to work about this, the NHS wasn't


The same attacks were applied to Nissan and other areas


We are spending money on strengthening the cyber defence


Is it the case the nuclear, Trident submarines are using Windows XP?


We never comment on different systems for reasons


Vanguard submarines, I can absolutely assure you are safe


and operate in isolation when out on patrol.


I have complete confidence in the nuclear deterrent.


There is no possibility of a malware attack against the military?


I can assure you the nuclear deterrent is protected.


You used a strange phrase when you said in certain


circumstances you thought we would use first strike


The key to the nuclear deterrent is to leave uncertainty in the mind


of any potential adversary, if he is looking at a country


to attack, as to what response he can expect, to leave ambiguity


in the mind of your enemy and that is why we never rule out


whether we would apply first strike or not.


You can imagine using nuclear weapons before anybody else?


The job of the nuclear weapons is to deter and has done that


successfully over 50 years since we have had


You have been critical of Labour on the nuclear issue and defence.


They might say that the problem with your side is wanting to talk


first and bomb later but you always want to bomb first and talk later.


Is there a single war since the Second World War


When we voted on the Iraq War, we were under


I voted for it, like a lot of MPs, because we were told


there were weapons of mass destruction and it


I regret voting for it on the basis there were weapons


I regret voting for it on the basis there weren't weapons


We were dealing with a dictator who invaded other countries and were


The problem with Labour's approaches they are now saying


Emily Thornberry suggested they might negotiate over


You were in favour of using force in Libya.


The Foreign Select Committee report on what happened in Libya


after the war you were keen on, it resulted in, it says, economic


collapse, intertribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises,


human rights violations and the spread of the Gadaffi regime


In short it was a total disaster and you voted for it.


The reason was to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe


where an entire city was potentially going to be wiped out.


That is why we have the intervention.


You are right, when you intervene, we need to learn the lessons


of these conflicts, there needs to be a proper plan


for stabilisation, I have been working with others


That we stabilise these areas and bring in security after the war


is over to ensure the Sunni have a proper stake


You have launched a new council housing policy and there are two


The money is coming from the 1.4 billion earmarked for capital


expenditure from the Autumn Statement.


It is not new money but the amount of money for each council


will depend on deals struck with Manchester, Birmingham,


to get more social housing built in these areas of a high enough


It is an attractive policy that will give people an alternative


to waiting and waiting to get into a council house or flat.


You and Emily Thornberry are coming back in a little while.