Britain has “no God-given right” to rule the waves and we should stop “strutting our importance” across the world, a peer has claimed.
Lord Singh of Wimbledon said such an attitude belongs to the 19th century and only increases the risk of “serious conflict” in the present day.
Money earmarked for military ships should instead be diverted to fund social care, the independent crossbench peer added.
The Government dismissed Lord Singh’s remarks and insisted it has a duty to keep the nation safe and secure.
Speaking in the House of Lords during question time, Lord Singh said: “The less money we spend on ships, the more we have to spend on social care.
“Would the minister agree that despite what we hear on the Last Night of the Proms, Britain has no God-given right to rule the waves?
“Strutting our importance across the world was questionable but understandable in the 19th century, but today it simply encourages others to do the same with an increasing risk of serious conflict.”
Lord Singh was referring to Rule Britannia, a song associated with the Last Night of the Proms.
Questions have been raised over whether it should be used at the event, given some of its lyrics, which include: “Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.”
Responding for the Government, defence minister Baroness Goldie said: “What this Government has got is a fundamental democratic responsibility to keep this nation secure and safe, and to work with our allies and partners globally to contribute to a safer world.
“I have to say to (Lord Singh), with the greatest of respect, it is very difficult to do that with an inadequate defence capability and we have seen over decades what happens when our defence capability frankly drops below what is needed.
“I think it’s a matter of great commendation to the people of the United Kingdom, and to the very skilled people in these shipyards throughout the United Kingdom, that we are forging ahead with this imaginative, innovative, constructive, effective ship-building programme.”