§ Mr. Dalyell
asked the Minister of Technology what action he is taking to lessen delay in decision-making in his Department in the matter of defence contracts with industry in the light of the answer 795 in the evidence of the Electronic Engineering Association to the Select Committee on Science and Technology.
§ Mr. Benn
It is essential to the proper control of public expenditure that any defence project of the type quoted, which contains novel features and whose total cost runs into millions of pounds, must be carefully assessed from both the technical and operational points of view at certain important stages both within my Department and the Ministry of Defence: in particular immediately before the full development contract is placed and again before the production contract is placed. Reassessment becomes necessary if at any time the cost estimates increase significantly. These processes inevitably take time, but it is right that they should.