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War Graves

Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will make a statement on the state of British war graves in South Africa; and if he will increase the MOD's contribution to the upkeep of the graves; [125942](2) what discussions his Department has had with

(a) the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and (b) the Adjutant General's Office concerning funding for the upkeep of British Boer war graves in South Africa; [125943]

(3) what recent discussions he has had with the South African government regarding funding for the maintenance of British war graves in South Africa; [125944]

(4) further to his answers of 20 May 2003, Official Report, column 673W, and of 23 June 2003, Official Report, column 539W, on the Boer War, whether the contributions made by the Government to the South African Heritage Resources Agency have been suspended. [126060]

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 23 June 2003, Official Report, column 539W. The Adjutant-General, who is responsible for pre-1900 British war graves, earlier this year funded a study by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission into the costs of restoring and maintaining those graves in South Africa. This report is currently under consideration and consequently no discussions have yet taken place with the South African authorities.Any proposal to change the amount made in the annual donation to the South African Heritage Resource Agency from the present level of £15,000 will be considered in the context of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission report.This money is administered by our Defence Attache in Pretoria and allocated to specific projects before being passed to the relevant South African agency.