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Falklands Campaign

Volume 29: debated on Thursday 28 October 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will now estimate the total cost of the Falklands war in money terms including repair or replacement of aircraft and naval vessels; and how much of this will come out of normal naval expenditure.

The extra cost to the defence budget of the operation to re-possess the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and Southern Thule, including the maintenance of our forces up to the end of September and the replacement of lost equipment and replenishment of stocks, is estimated to be about £700 million this year with a further £900 million spread over the next three years with some smaller sums thereafter.Costs arising from the South Atlantic campaign will be met from funds additional to those required for the three per cent. annual rate of real growth in defence spending.

Mr. McMahon asked the Secretary of State for Defence how long it took

(a)the task force and (b)the "Queen Elizabeth II" to reach the Falkland Islands area.

The ships of the task force sailed on various dates from several points of departure. For operational reasons, they were held at Ascension Island or elsewhere, for varying periods on their way to the South Atlantic. The majority sailed from United Kingdom ports on or soon after 5 April. The battle group of the task force entered the exclusion zone around the Falkland Islands on 1 May, the amphibious group rather later, prior to the San Carlos landings. The "Queen Elizabeth II" sailed on 12 May and arrived off South Georgia 16 days later.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how much money was deducted from the pay of members of the Army for kit lost during or on return from the Falklands campaign, indicating which units, how much was deducted from each unit, the average deduction in each rank, the highest and lowest deduction and how many men were involved; and if he will make a statement.

It has not been possible, in the time available, to obtain from all units involved in the Falklands campaign the detailed information needed to answer the hon. Member's question. I can, however, give him an assurance that no deductions would be made from soldiers' or officers' pay in respect of clothing or equipment issued to them which became lost or damaged in operations in the South Atlantic or elsewhere, except in circumstances where there was culpable negligence on their part. I know of no such case arising in the Falklands. However, some men have had pay deducted for certain items for which they could not adequately account when required to surrender them after their return to the United Kingdom.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the kit issued to the Second Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, for the Falklands campaign has been written off.

Of the total scaling of clothing and equipment issued to the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, for action in the Falklands campaign, only those items of kit which were destroyed, lost, or damaged beyond repair will have been written off.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence in what circumstances kit issued for the Falkland Islands campaign was written off.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his policy towards the docking of wages from Service men who have lost kit during the Falklands war.

Kit issued to units and to individuals taking part in the Falklands campaign would normally be written off (ie as a loss to public funds) if it was destroyed, lost, or damaged beyond repair. Only where such losses were found to be due to culpable negligence would those responsible he held liable to make good the loss in whole or in part, or to be subject to other disciplinary proceedings. I know of no such case arising in the Falklands.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether private firms will be able to bid for the work of reconstructing and equipping Port Stanley airport.

The rehabilitation of Port Stanley airport is being carried out now by the Royal Engineers. Other than in the supply of materials and specialist equipment, there is no direct involvement by private firms.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is giving consideration to the use of the land-based Guardian guided weapon system for the defence of the Falkland Islands; and, if so, when he expects to announce decisions on this and other defence projects for the area.

For the time being our area air defence requirements will be fully catered for by other weapon systems but we shall continue to evaluate the Guardian system in case we decide we need such a system for the longer term. No firm decisions about the long-term defence arrangements have yet been made.