The SNP have called on the UK government to clarify the Defence Secretary’s suggestion that funding for military action could come from the international aid budget.
The call comes as Michael Fallon commented that spend on UK personnel on anti-terror missions could be sourced from the Department for International Development’s (DFID) aid budget.
This comes at a time when the new Secretary of State for International Development, Priti Patel, is already under fire for her previous criticisms of the work of her own department.
SNP International Development spokesperson Patrick Grady MP commented: “Michael Fallon is showing a worrying disregard for the strict rules which govern the use of international aid spending.
“DFID’s budget and the UK’s commitment to overseas development aid of 0.7% of national income should be used to help the poorest and most vulnerable people around the world. While in some instances that may involve aspects of security and peacekeeping support – under no circumstances should money ring-fenced for aid be used to pay for combat troops on the ground.
“The UK Government is already double-counting funds towards both the 0.7% aid target and the 2% NATO target for defence spending. That should be minimised – and aid spending shouldn’t be used to supplement the defence budget. If the MoD is short of cash, perhaps it should reconsider how best to use the hundreds of billions currently committed to the renewal of Trident.
Transcript of the exchange on BBC Radio 4 Today programme can be read here:
Presenter: We saw a suggestion from your new cabinet colleague, who’s the new secretary of state for international development Priti Patel that she thought she might be given responsibility in her department for funding British troops combating Islamic insurgencies. Is that rather…[INAUDIBLE ]… you’re budget a bit?
Mr Fallon: Well there is a, you know, conflict stabilisation fund from which some of these operations are assisted. I don’t think it actually matters who’s budget it comes from-
Presenter: it matters to the British armed forces here because there’d be more money for them wouldn’t there?
Michael Fallon: Er, there would but we work incredibly closely with the department of international development and they will be involved in this work as well.