§ Mr. Robert B. Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his latest estimate of the cost of the Trident programme; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Tom King
I am pleased to announce that for the fourth year running there has been, in real terms, a reduction in the estimated cost of the Trident programme. The revised estimate now stands at £9,380 million, based on the exchange rate used for the long-term costing of the defence programme, which this year is taken to be £1 = $1.62.
Although this estimate represents a cash increase of £291 million compared with the estimate announced in 1989, after allowing for the effects of inflation and exchange rate variations, there has been a real reduction of £432 million compared with that estimate, and a real reduction of £1,631 million over the original 1982 estimate. This is additional to the savings resulting from the decision to have United Kingdom missiles processed in the United States facility at Kings bay, Georgia.206W
The proportion of the programme to be undertaken in the United Kingdom has risen to its highest level so far—69 per cent.
The Select Committee on Defence previously asked that when announcing the annual revised estimate, I should report on the state of the project as a whole. I am pleased to say that the Trident project remains on programme to enter service in the mid-1990s. There has been no slippage in the in-service date since the decision to purchase Trident II was announced in March 1982. I am, as in the past, sending to the Chairmen of the Select Committee on Defence and the Public Accounts Committee a more detailed report covering the points on which the Select Committee on Defence sought advice. I am also placing a copy of this report in the Library of the House.