HL Deb 12 March 1991 vol 527 cc65-6

Lord Boyd-Carpenter asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which EC countries have undertaken to give financial support to the British military action in the Gulf; and what are the amounts paid or promised in each case.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (The Earl of Caithness)

My Lords, Germany has pledged £275 million, Belgium £15 million and Denmark £8 million to support the UK's operations in the Gulf. Luxembourg has also decided to make a contribution to Western European Union members directly involved in the military effort.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that Answer. However, can he tell the House whether any member country of the EC made no contribution whatever? Further, can he advise us of the total contributions?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, Ireland made no contribution at all, either in cash or in kind. It is, however, difficult to answer my noble friend's second question because, apart from the cash pledged, substantial contributions have been made in kind.

Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos

My Lords, the noble Earl has given frank answers to the questions raised by his noble friend, but unfortunately his replies are not very satisfactory. Of course, that is neither his nor the Government's fault. However, can he inform the House of the total cost of the war effort from 2nd August to date? Is this subject on the agenda for the meeting between the right honourable gentleman the Prime Minister and President Bush which is due to take place in Bermuda next Saturday? Further, is the Minister able to say what is the total US expenditure on the war and what proportion of that amount has been supplied by other countries?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, I cannot, without notice, answer some of the very important questions put by the noble Lord the Leader of the Opposition. They are, in fact, outside the scope of the Question on the Order Paper. However, I can tell him that we expect the estimate of our costs to reach about £3 billion and that thus far we have received pledges amounting to £1.2 billion.

Lord Mellish

My Lords, is it not rather ominous that from the list of contributions from EC countries, which the Minister read out it appears that Belgium —a country which is only in existence because of efforts by the Americans and ourselves without which it would have been wiped out and we would not be discussing it—has contributed exactly nothing? What can we do about the situation?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, Belgium has pledged £15 million in cash. It contributed transport and Medevac aircraft, and also sent three ships to the Gulf. Of course, it is up to each country to decide what it should contribute.

Lord Mason of Barnsley

My Lords, there may have been constitutional or economic reasons to explain why some Common Market countries did not participate with the same vigour as did Her Majesty's Government as regards military or financial aid. However, is it not a fact that by now the whole world knows which countries they are and that consequently such countries will have to live with varying degrees of shame?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, as the noble Lord rightly said, it is up to each country to reflect upon what it has contributed.

Lord Harmar-Nicholls

My Lords, it is clearly understood that for constitutional reasons Germany could not send troops. However, is there any such reason which prevents that country from giving cash?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, Germany has pledged £275 million and we have received £140 million of that amount.

Lord Tordoff

My Lords, would it not be a good idea to approach some of the countries which have not been able to give cash, perhaps for various constitutional reasons, to see whether they will donate money to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees? Enormous pressure has been placed on the Middle East because of the influx of refugees. I put that question to the noble Earl's colleague during a debate last week, but I did not receive an answer. Will Her Majesty's Government use their good offices to ensure that other countries are persuaded to contribute money in that way?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, again we are deviating from the Question on the Order Paper which deals with, financial support to the British military action in the Gulf".

Baroness Oppenheim-Barnes

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it would be futile to make progress on either monetary or political union with partners who have been, in many cases and at a time of great world importance, so lacking in giving us the backing and support which we needed?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, my noble friend asks an interesting question but, again, it is somewhat wide of that which appears on the Order Paper.

Lord Boyd-Carpenter

My Lords, can my noble friend say whether Her Majesty's Government are happy with the facts as he disclosed them?

The Earl of Caithness

My Lords, it is a matter for each country to decide. We are most grateful for the contributions that we have received.

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