HC Deb 11 March 1971 vol 813 cc573-4
32. Mr. Booth

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will publish the costs of the test-firing of multiple warhead Polaris missiles from Her Majesty's Ship "Revenge" off Cape Kennedy last year; and whether he will make a statement.

Lord Balniel

A demonstration and shakedown operation was carried out by H.M.S. "Revenge" off Cape Kennedy in June, 1970. Two Polaris A3 missiles were fired with complete success. The approximate cost of the "Revenge" firings was £1.5 million.

Mr. Booth

I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply, since he has been noticeably reluctant to give any figures previously on the cost of the testing and development of nuclear weapons. Would he enlarge upon that answer at some time in our debates on the Defence Estimates, so that instead of his drawing this invidious distinction between conventional weapons and nuclear weapons, whereby he omits totally from defence White Papers, as did the previous Government, any reference to research and development projects on nuclear weapons, the House will at least be given the cost of these developments after they have taken place?

Lord Balniel

No, I will not divulge to the House information which I regard as dangerous to the security of the country. The hon. Gentleman will know that I gave an overall cost, and for security reasons I will not give a detailed breakdown of the cost of missiles or other aspects of a test firing.