HC Deb 29 June 1982 vol 26 cc744-5
19. Mr. Alton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his latest estimate of the total cost of the Trident programme.

Mr. Blaker

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the statement of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence on 11 March, and to defence open government document 82/1.

Mr. Alton

Will the Minister tell the House how much the figure varies from the original sum that he and his right hon. Friend gave to the House when they announced the cost of Trident, and whether he expects the cost to hold true in future?

Mr. Blaker

I have no reason to expect the figure to vary. I have explained on previous occasions that there are good reasons to believe that the programme can be held more or less to target. That was done with the Polaris programme.

Dr. McDonald

Does the Minister agree that the effect of the decision to take the D5 instead of the C4 will increase the effect of Trident spending on other defence spending by 25 per cent.? Does he accept that this will make it far more difficult to maintain adequate conventional forces, especially naval forces, over the next couple of years?

Mr. Blaker

I do not follow the first part of the hon. Lady's supplementary question, in which she referred to 25 per cent. If she will explain this issue to me in correspondence, I shall gladly examine it. It is not a figure that I have previously come across. As we are planning to increase our defence spending by 3 per cent. a year there will be more funds available for conventional forces, even some years from now, in spite of the Trident programme.