DEFENCE – AIRCRAFT CARRIERS – 17 July 2012
Dr Julian Lewis: Can the Minister explain in a practical way how a complex and expensive equipment programme such as the future carriers would have been better carried out under the new arrangements? For example, somewhere along the line the idea that the carriers should be easily convertible to take catapults was left out of the design. Would that situation be improved by the new arrangements?
[The Minister for the Armed Forces (Nick Harvey): It is probably common ground throughout the House that defence procurement has not been an exemplar of success for a good many years. One reason for that is that despite the good work of good people working for DE&S, they do not have available to them the full range of skill sets that they need to negotiate on equal terms with some of the more complex providers. Granting DE&S the private sector freedoms I have described will enable it to take on board the necessary skill sets to ensure that in future negotiations and future project management there is a better match between those securing value for the taxpayer and good products for the armed forces and the private sector providers of complex programmes. That will be a marked improvement on how things have been in the past.]