def070709 - no. 62

Session 2006-07, 9 July 2007

Publication of Report and Chairman's comments


Publication of Report and Chairman's comments

“ENTIRELY UNACCEPTABLE” FOR GOVERNMENT NOT TO SHOW PARLIAMENT ESTIMATED COSTS OF OPERATIONS IN IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN, SAYS DEFENCE COMMITTEE

“The MoD is incurring costs in the current financial year on military operations without parliamentary approval and without even providing Parliament with an outline indication of the costs likely to be incurred.  This is entirely unacceptable and we cannot understand why the MoD fails to see this.”, says a report by the House of Commons Defence Committee published today (Twelfth Report, Session 2006-07, Ministry of Defence Main Estimates 2007-08, HC 835).

The report is published before the House of Commons is asked today to approve the Government’s expenditure plans for the current financial year (the Main Estimates).

The Committee points out that the Ministry of Defence’s request for resources of £33.7 billion in the Main Estimates does not include the expected costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and so greatly underestimates the total expected cost of the MoD’s activities in 2007-08.  The cost of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan were forecast to exceed £1.7 billion last year.

The Committee says - as it has said in previous reports - that the MoD should include estimated costs of military operations in its Main Estimates, rather than waiting for the Supplementary Estimates later in the year. It recommends that - at least - the MoD should provide with the Main Estimates its planning assumptions for the costs of military operations in the financial year ahead.

The Rt Hon James Arbuthnot, Chairman of the Defence Committee, says “We are not  objecting to the costs of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Military operations cannot be done on the cheap, and our troops need to be properly supported in the difficult task that they are doing. 

Our objection is to the fact that the MoD does not show Parliament the estimated costs of these operations at the beginning of the financial year, in the way that every other Department is required to.  We have repeatedly told the MoD that this should change but it continues to act as if it is a law unto itself.  Of course, the costs of operations are uncertain, but Parliament and the public have a right to know what the MoD is expecting to spend.  We are talking about large amounts of public money here.”

 NOTES TO EDITORS:

1. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Bernard Jenkin MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP

2. News Release: No. 62

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