Mar. 3rd (Merco Press) - Defense spending on protecting the Falkland Islands has plunged by 50% cent in just six years, it was claimed by a report in London’s Daily Mail.
New figures published by the UK government show the budget for stationing the Armed Forces 8,000 miles away from Britain has plummeted from £143million in 2005-06 to £69million in 2010-11.
On Monday MPs warned that the apparent slump in defense spending on the Falklands had encouraged Argentina to raise the pressure over its right to the Islands.
UK Ministry of Defense said the fall was because of changes to 'accounting policy' - omitting costs such as military equipment, servicemen's pay, repairs and communications from the budget.
Defense spending peaked in 1982, the year of the Falklands War, when Argentina invaded the islands before a UK taskforce seized back control.
By 1989-90, the territory's defense budget had slumped to £60million, but by 2000-01 it had more than doubled to £143million - which happened to be the same amount spent in 2005-06. But the following year, it fell to £65million and has risen by just £4million for the financial year starting next month, claimed the newspaper article.
The UK has 1,000-plus troops garrisoned on the islands, plus four state of the art RAF bombers on standby at the international-standard Mount Pleasant airport. Royal Navy ships are also currently on patrol in the South Atlantic.
Andrew Rosindell, the Tory MP and secretary of the all-Party Falkland Islands group at Westminster, said: 'It is dangerous for the Government to give any kind of indication that Britain is not ensuring adequate defenses of the Islands.
'To seemingly cut defense spending while Argentina is saber-rattling sends out a very bad message.'
Liberal Democrat MP Bob Russell called for increased defense spending on the Falklands 'to make sure that we are fully prepared, especially as we have a smaller Royal Navy'.
But Armed Forces Minister Bill Rammell said: 'There is some variation between years caused by what categories of expenditure were included.
'For example, in recent years figures do not include military equipment, military personnel pay, service children's education facilities, estate works and maintenance, IT and communication, maritime visits or air charter.'