Pre-Budget Report: MILITARY SPENDING: Extra Pounds 580m Is Set Aside to Meet Costs of War in Iraq

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Britain's continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have left the taxpayer with a new bill for more than pounds 500m.

With UK soldiers staying in Iraq at least until the end of 2006 and troop numbers set to increase in Afghanistan, the spending will continue for the foreseeable future. The cost to Britain of the Iraq war is now believed to have passed pounds 4bn.

Gordon Brown told MPs that an extra pounds 580m was being set aside for the armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and other commitments overseas.

The hand-out of cash to the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is in addition to a pounds 400m emergency allocation by the Chancellor in the Budget in March.

The MoD recently disclosed that the Iraq war and its aftermath cost the UK about pounds 3.1bn by the end of March. It cost pounds 910m in the last financial year, pounds 847m in 2002-3 and pounds 1.3bn in 2003-4.

In the year to March it also spent pounds 67m in Afghanistan and pounds 87m in the Balkans.

Andrew Burgin, from the Stop the War Coalition, said: 'This is a complete waste of money. It should be used to build schools and hospitals. …