Military `luxury' criticised

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The Independent Online
Staff costs for the official service residence in Gibraltar are running at £175,000 a year, the Armed Forces Minister Nicholas Soames said last night.

The spending, disclosed in a Commons written reply, was criticised by Stephen Byers, Labour MP for Wallsend, who condemned it as "yet another example of senior military figures enjoying a luxury lifestyle at the taxpayers' expense".

Mr Soames also disclosed costs of £100,000 for the official service residence at Norfolk, Virginia, in the US, and entertainment allowances of £4,870 for the Gibraltar post and £7,470 for the US one.

He said 12 staff were employed in the Gibraltar residence. Their duties included "valeting, cleaning, cooking, waiting at table and gardening".

Mr Byers responded: "At a time when serving officers are being made redundant, the time has come for the Government to put its priorities in order and put the front line first."