§ Mr. Milburn
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the cost of employing consultants in connection with privatisation programmes in which his Department has been engaged since 1980. 
§ Mr. Arbuthnot
The only privatisation programme for which information on the use of consultants can be made available without disproportionate cost is that in connection with the proposed privatisation of the royal dockyards at Devonport and Rosyth about which my right hon. and learned Friend the then Secretary of State for Defence made an announcement on 18 October 1993,Official Report, columns 39–41. Between 18 October 1993 and 12 July 1995, payments made to consultants in relation to their work totalled £7.1 million. Further costs have been incurred, but final details will not be available until invoices have been presented and payments agreed.
Previous estimates given to hon. Members by my right hon. Friend the Member for Kettering (Mr. Freeman) gave a figure for "payments made or outstanding". The figure for payments outstanding included estimates which were higher than actual outturn costs. I can now report that costs reported in the previous answers were overstated by some £510,000. Therefore, the costs previously quoted as £7.2 million and £6.5 million are now known to have been £6.7 million and £6 million respectively.
I have written to the hon. Members for South Shields (Dr. Clark), for Plymouth, Devenport (Mr. Jamieson) and for Leeds, Central (Mr. Fatchett) to inform them of the revision to the figures which they were given in previous answers.