PM says defence review will examine needs properly

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The forthcoming review of Britain's defence capabilities will make sure Britain has armed forces that can protect the country's interests at home and abroad, David Cameron has insisted.

The Prime Minister said the strategic defence and security review (SDSR), which is due to report next month, will "properly" examine the UK's defence needs.

His comments came amid warnings from MPs that planned spending cuts for defence are so deep they could jeopardise the armed forces' ability to maintain current military operations.

The Commons Defence Committee said the SDSR, which will determine where the spending axe will fall, is being pushed through so quickly that mistakes are bound to be made.

The MPs expressed concern that the review could be dominated by short-term security issues and threats at the expense of the medium to long-term defence needs of the country.

But during Prime Minister's question time, Mr Cameron said: "You will be seeing a strategic defence review where we properly review how we can make sure that we have forces that are right for this country, right for our interests, and makes sure we can protect our interests around the world."

He was responding to a question from Labour's Tom Greatrex (Rutherglen and Hamilton West), who asked for a meeting with Mr Cameron to discuss reports that two planned aircraft carriers could be cancelled as part of the SDSR.

The Prime Minister said Defence Secretary Liam Fox would be happy to meet anyone to discuss the "appalling legacy" left by Labour at the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Cameron went on: "Of all the budgets that I have looked at, this is the one where we were left the biggest mess - £38 billion over-committed, and also decisions taken that made very little sense at all."

Labour MP Ian Davidson (Glasgow South West) also raised the issue of aircraft carriers, though in a more unconventional way.

He was holding a large model of a carrier as he unsuccessfully attempted to catch the Speaker's eye to ask a question.

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