SOUTH Dorset MP Richard Drax has called for an increase in defence spending.

In a parliamentary debate, Mr Drax paid his thanks and expressed his respect and admiration for the armed forces.

He said: "Expenditure on our armed forces must surely be a matter of priority. The priority for us in this House is the defence of our country, our island, our dependants, our people and our many responsibilities in the world."

Mr Drax proceeded to read out a list of the responsibilities and wars Britain was engaged in, noting Afghanistan, Bosnia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Ukraine and Russia.

He added: "We as a country have other responsibilities. Northern Ireland has not gone away...The list goes on: Malta, Gibraltar, Cyprus, the Falklands, Belize and now Kenya. We also have NATO commitments, aid to the third world and disaster relief.

"We are a tiny country with a small budget compared with many others, but we have had and still have huge responsibilities because we stand up – as we have always done – for freedom, democracy and the rule of law. To do that we need some muscle behind us in the event it all goes wrong."

Mr Drax said the Falklands war was a 'classic case in point', suggesting Britain would struggle to retake those islands were they to be taken now.

Discussing Britain's defence expenditure during the Falklands war, Mr Drax said: "Defence expenditure was more than 5 % of GDP, and I understand we had more than 60 warships. Expenditure is now 2 % of GDP and we have 19 warships."

Drax went on to mention a report in the Financial Times on June 15 on a study commissioned from within the British armed forces, which indicated that defence spending would fall further to 1.9 % GDP in 2017 and 1.6 % GDP in 2024-2025.

Mr Drax added: "Will the Minister assure me that is not the case?"