§ 40. Mr. Dalyell
asked the Minister of Technology for what reasons the estimate for research and development of the Anglo-French variable geometry aircraft has risen from £200 million to £250 million since March, 1967.
§ The Minister of State, Ministry of Technology (Mr. John Stonehouse)
As I indicated in the debate on 22nd March, it is not until the project definition study has been completed that I can give more 445 precise estimates of development costs for this aircraft.
§ Mr. Dalyell
Is it or is it not a fact that the R. & D. estimate is now put at £250 million? Is my hon. Friend aware that it is the experience of those of us who have served on the Public Accounts Committee that estimates tend to be exceeded in reality by a factor of at least two and half? Is he further aware that some of us who have talked to Lockheed engineers, who have experience of some of the problems at first-hand, believe that the final cost may be at least £500 million?
§ Mr. Stonehouse
I cannot accept that at all. Much more work has been done on preparing the possible R. & D. costs for this aircraft than on any project developed in the past. I cannot comment on any figures that have appeared in the Press. No official figure has yet been given.
§ Mr. Allaun
Is not this a medium-range nuclear bomber and not just an interceptor? If so, could not we save many millions of £s by adhering to our official policy of renouncing the so-called independent nuclear deterrent?
§ Mr. Stonehouse
As my hon. Friend knows, these are questions for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence and should be addressed to him.
§ Mr. Speaker
Questions to the Prime Minister are not normally taken until 3.15 p.m. We have, however, reached the Prime Minister's Questions and the Prime Minister and hon. Members with Questions are here. If the House has no objection, we will continue with Questions to the Prime Minister, although it is a few minutes before 3.15.