HC Deb 01 July 1966 vol 730 cc350-1W
Sir C. Osborne

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is aware that, because of the United States investment in research and development, their design and production enables their defence items to be from 25 per cent. to 50 per cent. cheaper than comparable United Kingdom products; if he will take steps to fill this gap and so enable Great Britain to produce more of its own defence equipment.

Mr. Healey

The total annual expenditure by the United States on defence research and development, trials and evaluation exceeds the total defence budget of the United Kingdom, but as a percentage of the gross national product and of total defence spending the United States and United Kingdom allocations to defence R. & D. are of the same order. R. & D. is aimed primarily at technological progress rather than at reducing costs and if added to production costs can increase them considerably. A much more important factor is the scale of production, and in this the United States, because their requirements are so much larger than ours, have substantial advantage. Steps are being taken wherever practicable to share R. & D. and production costs in co-operation with other countries and to improve the scale of production by increasing sales.