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

In a parliamentary debate, Mr Drax also expressed 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 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: “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 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 case in point, suggesting we would struggle to retake those islands were they to be taken now.

Mr Drax said: “Defence expenditure was more than five per cent of GDP, and I understand we had more than 60 warships.

“Expenditure is now two per cent and we have 19 warships.”

He said a study commissioned from within the British armed forces, indicated that defence spending would fall further to 1.9 per cent GDP in 2017 and 1.6 per cent GDP in 2024-2025.

Mr Drax asked: “Will the Minister assure me that is not the case?”