Defence Committee

Session 2007-08, 10 March 2008

Publication of Report


DEFENCE COMMITTEE HIGHLIGHTS SIGNIFICANT INCREASES IN COSTS OF OPERATIONS

The Government's forecasts for the costs of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in this financial year have increased significantly over the last three months, says a Report from the House of Commons Defence Committee published today (Operational costs in Afghanistan and Iraq: Spring Supplementary Estimate 2007-08, HC 400).

• The forecast cost of operations in Afghanistan, excluding indirect resource costs, has gone up 48% to £1.424 billion in 2007-08.  The MPs say this is unsurprising given the increase in UK Forces there over the year and the high operational tempo.  But they say that the Ministry of Defence must provide more detail on the capital and infrastructure programmes.

• The forecast cost of operations in Iraq has surprisingly gone up even more, by 52% to £1.449 billion, despite the drawdown of UK Forces.  The MPs say the MoD must produce a breakdown of the increase in capital costs in Iraq, and explain when the cost of operations in there might begin to fall.

• Overall, forecast operational costs in both theatres stand now at £3.297 billion for this financial year, compared to an outturn cost of £1.698 billion for financial year 2006-07, which represents an increase of 94%.

The Report - published on the day the House of Commons will be asked to agree the Government’s Spring Supplementary Estimates - recommends that the House approve the MoD's request for additional resources, given that UK Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan require such significant resource, on account of the operational need for new equipment and force protection.

Commenting on the Report, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said:

“Few people will object to the investment being made in better facilities and equipment for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The money spent on Urgent Operational Requirements is particularly welcome. However, this Estimate represents a lot of public money.  The MoD needs to provide better information about what it is all being spent on.  We are pleased to note that some more information will be made available with the Main Estimates in April.  The Government should not take Parliament's agreement to its spending plans for granted.”

NOTE FOR EDITORS:

The Committee was nominated on 13 July 2005. The Defence Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration, and policy of the Ministry of Defence and its associated public bodies.

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Media Enquiries: Alex Paterson, Tel 020 7219 1589, email: [email protected]

Specific Committee Information:  Tel 020 7219 5745, email: [email protected]

Committee Website: http://www.parliament.uk/defcom

Watch committees and parliamentary debates online:  www.parliamentlive.tv

Publications / Reports / Reference Material: Copies of all select committee reports are available from the Parliamentary Bookshop (12 Bridge St, Westminster, 020 7219 3890) or the Stationery Office (0845 7023474). Committee reports, press releases, evidence transcripts, Bills; research papers, a directory of MPs, plus Hansard (from 8am daily) and much more, can be found on www.parliament.uk