Ministry of Defence coy over taxpayer credit cards

MoDIf I was a squadron leader of British troops in Afghanistan, I'd be hiding the newspapers today, after it was revealed that Ministry of Defence staff have been caning their Government procurement credit cards to the tune of £1 billion while around 12,000 troops are staring redundancy in the face.

Thanks to the Cabinet Office request that all Government departments reveal details of how many staff hold these cards and how much is spent on them, we've been getting a fair idea of the liberties that have been taken with the taxpayer-funded cards.

With permission to spend up to £5,000, and the only requirement being that they're satisfied the purchase is value for money, civil servants across the board have been living it large with weekends away at country retreats, first class travel, luxury hotel stays, online shopping sprees and in one case, a snowmobile.

But the MoD is a different case because it's one Government department that won't reveal details of its expenditure, though according to The Daily Telegraph, there is spending on travel and hotels. I guess that's expected bearing in mind the nature of their business, but the details of that travel and those hotels would be interesting.

While we might not manage to pin the MoD down on specifics, when Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said that under Labour the department "behaved like out-of-control online shoppers" you start to get an idea of what's been going on.

Because a poor squaddie sitting in a dusty hole in Helmand Province with ill-fitting boots and equipment that just doesn't work is not going to be best pleased when he discovers that some desk jockey in Whitehall has been funding long lunches and a spot of online shopping with a Government Procurement Card.

Even with no personal military experience myself, I know that this sort of thing does not motivate the troops.
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