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Defence Relations

Volume 702: debated on Thursday 5 June 2008

My right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

In my last Statement to the House on the defence attaché network on 17 September 2007 (Official Report, col. 125WS) I said that the Ministry of Defence would continue to review the attaché network, as it has done regularly in the past. I can now announce some further changes. In spite of a very taut planning round for the MoD, I have been able to increase the department’s funding of the network for the next four years to meet substantial and new external costs incurred by the attaché network from this financial year. To meet a remaining shortfall, we will, however, be closing our defence sections over the next two years in Barbados, Bulgaria, Finland, Portugal and Sri Lanka and making a reduction in the defence section in India.

Our remaining attachés will focus increasingly on supporting the Government’s broad security objectives of building peace and stability, reducing the risk of terrorism and in securing support for operations. We are keen to sustain our conflict prevention work, assist more vulnerable states to develop appropriate security structures and to help those who may contribute to peace support operations.

We greatly value the work of our attaché network. At the same time, the investment we make in the network needs to be as cost-effective and as relevant to our international interests as possible. The results of the latest review are designed to achieve these objectives.