By politics.co.uk staff
Britain would be better able to defend the Falklands if it cuts its aid budget to countries such as India, a former Sea Lord has said.
Lord West said it was ridiculous that UK aid to India, which currently stands at £1.6 billion, has allowed the country to build its own aircraft carriers but deprived the Royal Navy of similar funds.
"I am horrified our naval flotilla now comprises only 19 frigates and destroyers," he said in an interview.
"In the Falklands, in the first month of fighting, we had four sunk and 14 damaged. That makes you think. We seem to have forgotten that when you fight you lose things.
"Here we are with 19 frigates and destroyers. Are they bonkers? Are they mad? How have they allowed this to happen?"
Lord West suggested that cuts to aid spending, together with reduction in NHS and welfare costs, would restore the Royal Navy to its former glory.
"I believe defence should get a better crack of the whip among government departments," he said.
"It seems to me a tiny fraction of the aid budget, the welfare budget and of the NHS, so tiny it would hardly affect them, would make an immense difference to defence.
"Yes there will be howls. We won't be able to give the Indians some aid so they won't be able to build their aircraft carriers.
"We won't be able to find something in health or in welfare. That always causes howls and squeals but the amounts we are talking about are tiny."
The comments come ahead of the 30th anniversary of the invasion on April 2nd.
In the build-up to the anniversary, the rhetoric between London and Buenos Aires has become increasingly shrill, but few analysts expect a new Argentinean attempt to take the islands.