This November marks a very important anniversary, as we remember the end of the First World War 100 years ago. There are events taking place across the country and Constituency to mark this important occasion, and I am very much looking forward to joining the Remembrance events in Ludgershall and laying a Parliamentary wreath at the Ludgershall War Memorial, whilst Councillors lay Parliamentary wreaths on my behalf in the other towns across the Constituency.
I am always filled with a huge amount of pride to see the heartfelt tributes paid to the members of our Armed Forces, past and present, on Remembrance Day, and this year is a particularly good opportunity to recognise the enormous sacrifice they make to keep us safe. I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to speak to your parents and grandparents, or do a little research on the family tree, to learn about what your relatives did during the First World War. Whether they were serving on the front line or contributing to the war effort back home, our Armed Forces kept us safe in the darkest of times, and we remember this year the ending of that conflict 100 years ago.
But, of course, this was not the ‘war to end all wars’, and in recent years we have seen the threats to our country intensify and become more complex as the world we live in becomes more unpredictable. The character of modern warfare is constantly changing, and it is just as important now as it was then to have an Armed Forces with the capabilities to protect our citizens at home and abroad. That is why I am pleased that the UK is the biggest defence spender in Europe, and the second biggest in NATO, where we are one of only five members who meet and in our case exceed, the target of spending two per cent of our GDP on defence. In the recent Budget, the Ministry of Defence was allocated an additional £1 billion for this year and next, which means we can avoid damaging cuts to our force structure by not deleting any capability or reducing the size of our Armed Forces. I am proud that we are also making sure that the families of our Armed Forces have the support which they need. Locally, this includes ensuring we have the infrastructure needed to support the Army Rebasing Programme, and nationally we are launching a scheme to help spouses find the jobs they want, whilst also introducing schemes to support those living with or caring for those with life-changing injuries or disabilities.