MPs highlight missing weapons

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The Public Accounts Committee yesterday had some faint praise for the MoD's financial management of the British intervention in Bosnia which, it said, had cost pounds 337m from December 1995 to December 1996, plus pounds 25m for air and sea operations. However, it highlighted the fact that paperwork relating to pounds 3.9m worth of ammunition - from rifle bullets to 155mm artillery rounds - had not yet been traced, although 452 Milan anti- tank missiles, worth pounds 6m, had been found.

The MoD said it was confident none of the ammunition had been lost or stolen, and that in the "fast-moving" situation when the Peace Implementation Force arrived in Bosnia, it had been difficult to conduct regular stocktakes.

The PAC report said: "It was to the Department's credit that in spite of all the difficulties they nevertheless imposed on themselves the rigorous standards of peacetime administration and accounting and it was clear that the Department intended to learn from those instances where the arrangements did not work as intended".

The MoD said an investigation into the missing paperwork was still underway, and that when they had established what had happened there would be an inquiry into how the errors occurred.

Committee of Public Accounts, 23rd Report 1996-97. Ministry of Defence: the Financial Management of the former Yugoslavia.

Christopher Bellamy