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Military Equipment

Volume 533: debated on Monday 10 October 2011

11. What procedures exist to ensure that British military equipment used in operations abroad does not fall into the hands of others. (72909)

Robust accounting and security measures exist to prevent the loss of equipment through theft. In the rare event that equipment is damaged and cannot be recovered because of a risk to life or likely loss of further equipment, it is destroyed to prevent it from being used by others.

I thank the Minister. In the light of his response, can he say anything more about the announcement at the weekend of a £1 million fund to stop weapons proliferation in Libya? Does that fall within his domain, and exactly what is that money going to be used for?

The concerns that we have in Libya do not relate to our own equipment that our troops have used, but relate to a proliferation of equipment that we believe may now be at large in Libya, much of it having been previously held by the Gaddafi regime. It is in the interests of everyone around the globe that that situation is contained and controlled as quickly as possible, and we have sent personnel out to assist the new Government in Libya in getting those munitions under control.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the report by the Select Committee on Defence on the handling of assets by the Ministry of Defence in 2009-10 is another damning indictment of the mismanagement of the MOD under the previous Government?

It is true that there has been a problem with inventories and accounting for equipment. Audit processes have identified that, on occasions, that has been a matter of misclassification of items. The situation in practice is probably less gloomy than it sometimes looks in reports.