§ Lord Bassam of Brighton
asked Her Majesty's Government:
What progress has been made in discussions with the United States of America on the decision not to proceed with the United Kingdom's planned final Trident missile purchase. [HL3213]
§ Lord Gilbert
Our decision not to proceed with the planned final Trident missile body buy will have implications for the UK/US procurement programme and the long term Trident support arrangements of both countries. We have, therefore, agreed with the United States that, to safeguard production capabilities, we will continue with the planned procurement of missile components. Some of these will be required by the UK as in-service spares; the remainder we will sell back to the United States in future years for use in their continuing production programme. This arrangement has been enshrined in a Memorandum of Understanding that the US Deputy Secretary for Defense and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence have signed.
Overall, our decision to maintain our Trident missile inventory at 58, rather than increasing it to 65 as previously planned, will require the write-off of surplus expenditure to the value of some £40 million, over half of which results from advance commitments to the final buy by the previous government. Our decision is expected to save in the region of £50 million.