HC Deb 07 March 2000 vol 345 cc641-3W
Mr. Ashdown

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the military establishments within(a) Somerset and (b) Yeovil constituency, showing in each case the personnel complement; if he will set out the plans to change the (i) number and (ii) menning of such establishments; and if he will make a statement. [110793]

Mr. Speller

The Ministry of Defence (MOD) establishment within(a) the county of Somerset and (b) Yeovil constituency are as listed. The personnel complement at each establishment is also given.

(4) if he will list the terms and conditions of the renegotiated contract with British Aerospace for the RMPA programme, indicating which ones, and for what reason, differ from those in the 1996 contract; and if he will make a statement; [112469]

(5) what technical and programme factors led to the in-service date slippage of the RMPA project to 2005; and if he will make a statement; [112468]

(6) if he will provide a summary of the costs of the Replacement Maritime Patrol Aircraft Programme including development and production costs, in particular (a) costs arising as a result of delays to the planned in-service date of the RMPA and (b) the reasons for cost variation since the original RMPA contract was placed; and if he will make a statement. [112467]

Dr. Moonie

[holding answer 2 March 2000]This is a matter for the Chief Executive of the Defence Procurement Agency. I have asked the Chief Executive to write to the hon. Member.

Letter from J. W. Howe to Mr. Paul Keetch, dated 7 March 2000: I am replying to your six questions to the Secretary of State for Defence about the Nimrod MRA4 programme (previously known as the Replacement Maritime Patrol Aircraft). This matter falls within my area of responsibility as Chief of Defence Procurement and Chief Executive of the Defence Procurement Agency. You asked about the cost of the Nimrod MRA4 programme. Overall project costs are estimated at £2317M (at 1999/00 prices), a reduction of £92M (on the same price base) on the estimated costs at MoD Approval in August 1996, prior to contract placement in December that year. The reduction is due primarily to the renegotiation of the contract in early 1999, which included changes in risk assessment and recovery of Liquidated Damages (LD). The additional run-on costs on the existing Nimrod MR2 (up to its currently planned out of service date) consequent on the slippage in delivery of Nimrod MRA4 are offset by the reduction in the cost of operating Nimrod MRA4 over the same period. You asked also about the nature of technical and programme factors which led to the slippage of the ISD to 2005. As the Minister made clear when he announced the slippage BAe Operations Ltd. (now known as BAE SYSTEMS) experienced technical difficulties with the development of new information technology toolsets, particularly in the area of design and concurrent engineering, and difficulty in resourcing this complex aircraft project. Additionally, the acquisition of the necessary software tools took longer than anticipated and the company faced particular difficulties in applying new information to the design of the aircraft. In three of your questions you asked about contract terms and conditions and the differences in the renegotiated contract, in particular penalty clauses and the recovery of Liquidated Damages. It is not practical or meaningful to list all the terms and conditions of the renegotiated contract here. But the main features related to programme timescales which resulted in the slippage of the in-service date (ISD) from April 2003 to March 2005, changes to the contract specification to clear up ambiguities, operationally acceptable reductions in specification and benefits in through life support. The MoD also secured a revised Variation of Price (VOP) formula whereby our commitment to pay inflation over nine years of the contract period is greatly reduced. In addition, we secured BAE SYSTEMS' commitment to integrate the Active Search Sonobuoy System during the main aircraft programme and so deliver an active search capability at ISD. Liquidated Damages will also be recovered from BAE SYSTEMS for delayed contract deliverables and a new Liquidated Damages provision was negotiated to protect against further delays. Your final question related to the recent Critical Design Review (CDR). The Air Vehicle Critical Design Review for the Nimrod MRA4 was held at the end of September 1999. There were 34 time-bound actions placed at the review which have all now been completed, signifying that a major engineering design milestone for the Nimrod MRA4 Air Vehicle is complete: thus far the aircraft has met the revised programme milestones.