MPs call for safer vehicles for soldiers

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Indy Politics

Labour MPs have called for the Ministry of Defence to buy more armoured vehicles "off the shelf" in response to alarm over the rising numbers of British soldiers being killed on patrol in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A report by a Commons select committee tomorrow will warn that the MoD may have put lives at risk by failing to provide British troops with armoured vehicles that could withstand attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan and insurgents in Iraq with heavy machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades.

The report will say that the British deployment in Afghanistan was "cost-led rather than needs-led". Last night, one Labour member of the Defence Select Committee said Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, should act immediately to protect British troops engaged in conflicts in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"When we were in Afghanistan, we saw the US troops were equipped with Chevy 4x4s which were armoured," said the MP. "They cost around £200,000, but they are protecting lives. We need to order some kit off the shelf without delay."

The committee is critical of the MoD for supplying British forces with Land Rovers which are designed to "snatch" protesters but are incapable of stopping heavy machine-gun fire or makeshift roadside bombs.

Heavier vehicles are on order but will not be delivered for six months.