More than £1billion was spent by officials at the Ministry of Defence on a tank and personnel carrier programme that failed to deliver a single vehicle, MPs say today....
MPs on the Public Accounts Committee blamed the Treasury for raiding the MoD’s budget for the vehicles, effectively hobbling the programme.
They castigated the MoD for the “extraordinary failure” which meant that the department had “nothing to show” for its £1billion of spending.
Since 1998 the MoD has attempted to acquire tanks, reconnaissance vehicles and personnel-carriers through a number of different procurement projects.
However the MoD found that not one of the vehicles was delivered, despite £1.1billion being spent, including £321million on “cancelled or suspended projects”.
Matters were made worse when defence officials raided the vehicles’ budget, taking £10.8billion which had been due to the programme until 2021.
This meant that “there will be gaps in capability until at least 2025; making it more difficult to undertake essential tasks such has battlefield reconnaissance”.
As a result of this “£1.1billion failure”, the MoD was given an extra £2.8billion from the Treasury reserve to buy mine-resistant vehicles, the MPs said.
However these vehicles are only suited to certain battlefield purposes and are not the all-round vehicles that were identified in last year’s strategic defence review.
Margaret Hodge, the committee’s chairman, said: “The reason for this extraordinary failure is all too clear.
“Seeking to balance its overall defence budget, the MOD raided the armoured vehicles chest and removed £10.8 billion from budgets up to 2021.”
As a result only £5.45billion was left in the budget for the next 10 years – a sum “which is insufficient to deliver all of the programme”, the MPs said.
Mrs Hodge said that “matters were made worse by an overly complex procurement process and an unrealistic culture of always demanding cutting edge technology”.
“The Department has yet to say how it is going to find the money to buy the vehicles it needs in future to carry out the full range of military tasks.”
The delays meant that helicopters and other vehicles had to be used for tasks like battlefield reconnaissance and transporting servicemen and women.
Mrs Hodge was incensed to learn that a senior civil servant in charge of spending at the MoD could not name the official in charge of the project, or whether anyone had been reprimanded for the waste.
Richard Bacon MP, a senior Tory member of the committee, blamed the MoD for being “over-ambitious in ordering expensive kit with all the bells and whistles”.
He said: “Armored vehicles have suffered more severe budget cuts than other equipment projects, mainly because they involve lower levels of contractual commitments and are therefore easier to cut.
“As a result, there is not enough money left for the purchases of new tanks, reconnaissance vehicles and armored personnel carriers which are planned.
“This mismanagement forced the MoD to go cap in hand to the Treasury so it could buy mine-resistant vehicles for Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Last night defense equipment minister Peter Luff said: “The armored vehicle programme was left in a mess by the previous Government.
“We are now sorting out their unrealistic and unaffordable plans by balancing the budget, investing real money in equipment and reforming outdated procurement practices.
“However, the PAC is again misrepresenting the facts. It is not true to say the £1.1Bn spent on armored vehicles has not delivered any equipment. It has delivered Titan, Trojan and Viking vehicles, with Trojan and Viking used on operations in Afghanistan.”
Unfortunately the MoD has been thrown to the media wolves in order to deflect attention away from the real taxpayer-funded scandals. Our education system is churning out kids that can barely read or write. We have thousands dying in our filthy hospitals while many others die waiting for operations. This all despite huge increases in state spending on education and health (while the defense budget has been effectively reduced despite this country's involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya). Our welfare bill has long gone through the roof and is heading to outer space; it is an all you can eat feast for the world's work shy. This against a backdrop of rising crime (despite more police and increased pay). But you won't hear the left-leaning media (led by the BBC) criticizing health, education and welfare. They'd rather you hear about the terrible MoD wasting money. After all, nothing would give the left greater joy than to destroy our nation's defense and defense industry....LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL