The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reportedly paid thousands of pounds, from the taxpayers' contributions, to help soldiers undergo "minor surgical procedures relating to gender reassignment", The Sun reported.

According to the report, the expenditure was made regardless of cuts in the defence budget; the details were revealed after the paper submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Surgeon-General of the MoD released a statement, which said requests for assistance in sex changes were considered "on a case by case basis", by the Exceptional Case Assessment Panel.

The statement also said patients may be asked to visit National Health Service (NHS) officials if surgery was required. It also clarified the costs incurred: "From April 2009 to date, the cost to the MoD is £7,440 for minor surgical procedures relating to gender reassignment."

"The MoD is supposed to be about defending the country. What on earth this has to do with that God only knows, said Tory MP Philip Davies to the Sun.

Meanwhile, John O'Connell of the TaxPayers' Alliance said payments for such procedures "will be hard to square".