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Volume 404: debated on Thursday 8 May 2003

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if he will estimate the cost of the military action in Iraq. [111895]

It would be premature to make such an estimate, but we expect the costs of the military campaign to be covered by the £3 billion reserve announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor in the Budget.

I would say to my hon. Friend the Father of the House that we have made available a £3 billion reserve. That is the figure announced by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, and it is our best estimate of the right figure to make available in the reserve at this time.

I understand why the Minister is vague on such large figures, but when he eventually gets around to computing them, will he also take into account the costs to the country that will be saved of not having to fight a third Gulf war as a result of finally winning the second one?