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Bosnia And Kosovo: British Forces Costs

Volume 590: debated on Thursday 18 June 1998

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3.22 p.m.

Whether the continuing cost of participation of British forces in Bosnia and of potential operations in Kosovo will be borne by the Treasury contingency reserve.

My Lords, the plans underlying the 1998–99 defence budget did not assume that it would cover short-term operations such as British forces' participation in operations in Bosnia, or potential costs in Kosovo. Where these cannot be accommodated within the budget, such costs have in the past been the subject of a claim on the reserve.

My Lords, I cannot really thank the noble Lord for that Answer because it is not really an Answer to the Question. The noble Baroness, Lady Symons of Vernham Dean, assured the House last November that until June 1998 those costs would be paid for by the Treasury foreign policy budget. Will that continue until June 1998?

My Lords, nothing in my Answer is inconsistent with what my noble friend Lady Symons said. In recent years, where unprogrammed operational costs could not be accommodated in the defence budget it has been the practice to seek access to the reserve. My noble friend Lady Symons would have been aware of that. Those arrangements are currently under review and are being considered in the context of the strategic defence review.