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Updated: May 15, 2020

This morning, the Public Accounts Committee which I site on has published a severely critical report on the management of contracts for Britain's new nuclear weapons system. Among the poor practice that has led to a £1.35 billion overspend, the MOD started to build a factory that turned out to be too wee for the nuclear reactors it was supposed to manufacture, and contracts that were worded in such a way that contractors could sometimes get paid more if the contract was delayed or overspent.

Whatever anyone’s views on the rights and wrongs of nuclear weapons, the fact is that basic mistakes by the MOD have meant the cost of replacing these weapons has more than doubled on the original estimates and a key part of this work, building the facility to actually manufacture the nuclear warheads, is over six years behind schedule. This is bad enough but the Public Accounts Committee has found that a major cause of delays and overspends has been the Ministry of Defence making the same mistakes they were making over thirty years ago. It’s astonishing and deeply worrying that they have failed to learn from earlier mistakes.

For example the MOD awarded a contract to build the factory to manufacture the nuclear reactor cores that power nuclear submarines. They did this before they had finalised the design of the reactor cores themselves. Once the design of the reactors was finalised they discovered they were building a factory that was too small to build them.

It’s simply not acceptable for any government department to waste over a billion pounds of public money when so many essential public services are under financial pressure.

You can read the full report here. Our inquiry followed a report earlier this year by the National Audit Office which you can find here.

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