HC Deb 08 November 1961 vol 648 cc949-50
1. Mr. Wall

asked the Minister of Defence what British troops are left in Kuwait;and what was the total cost of this operation.

The Minister of Defence (Mr. Harold Watkinson)

The withdrawal of British forces from Kuwait has been completed. The extra cost falling on United Kingdom Defence Votes as a result of the operation is provisionally estimated at about £900,000. There were in addition some local costs which were met by the Kuwait Government.

Mr. Wall

Can my right hon. Friend say whether he is satisfied that British troops are available if the independence of Kuwait should be again threatened, and how much of this very satisfactory operation has been paid for by the Kuwait Government?

Mr. Watkinson

As to the first part of the supplementary question, I would say that, of course, we intend to keep our obligations to the Ruler of Kuwait. As to the second part, the Kuwait Government were generous in paying a lot of the local costs, but I do not think that I can give an accurate figure.

Mr. H. Hynd

Was it not stated earlier that the Kuwait Government were to pay the whole cost of this operation? Does that mean that £900,000 will now fall on the British taxpayer?

Mr. Watkinson

I said in a previous Answer to the hon. Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg) that the cost of the operation would be about £1 million, and the revised figure, which is the nearest that we can get at the moment, is about £900,000.

Mr. Paget

Cannot Kuwait really afford its own rescue?

Mr. Watkinson

There may be some point in that, but, on the other hand, we did what we thought we should do to fulfil a treaty obligation. I do not think that one always sends in a bill for doing that.