On 16 December, when most of Britain was caught in a big freeze, the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen joined the Belgian Prime Minister Yves Leterme and the Belgian Defense Minister Pieter de Crem in Brussels on the site of the new NATO HQ to attend a ground-breaking ceremony.
Britain's contribution to this £841m state-of-the-art building is a mere £105m. The building is scheduled to be finished in 2015.
John Glen, the Tory MP for Salisbury was frustrated at the spending of hundreds of millions of pounds on a building while British armed forces face severe reductions.
”I find it very difficult to square news of this expenditure alongside the painful cuts that the MOD has had to bear,” he said. “I would urge Liam Fox, the Secretary of State, to work with other defence ministers across Nato to reduce the burden on the exchequer. We cannot afford it.”
A British government spokesman said:
"The UK will contribute 12.5 per cent of this budget and we're scrutinising it closely for value for money. It is important that Nato has a good HQ,"
Like John Glen others will say it's shameful for the MoD to be spending this money while many military allowances will be cut from April this year, but it's all part of the great plan. The UK government has no intention of protecting our armed forces and is blatantly carving them up as instructed by the EU Common Security and Defence Policy and laid down in Article 42 of the Lisbon Treaty. (It should be noted Denmark has an opt-out from the CSDP).
The UK and France account for 50% of EU defence spending and about 65% of research and development spending, according to the BBC. Both countries spent 2.32% of GDP on defence in 2009.
The new NATO HQ ought to be a pleasure to work in with its restaurant, leisure and sport facilities, shops and banks. Sounds like it may be quite a pleasant visitor attraction for a wet day.
We shouldn't complain at a more £105m though because we didn't complain when the MoD spent £2.3bn on Whitehall offices back in 2007. Of course these refurbishments were funded by 30-year PFI contracts.
While MoD staff rest their bums on 'the most comfortable office chairs in the world - the kind used by David Dimbleby on the BBC's Question Time - military families live in damp homes without acceptable heating or insulation.
It's a pity NATO didn't put the welfare of their members' military to the fore but that would mean prioritising. Military personnel are only the means to an end for these overpaid bureaucrats.