Projects (Departmental Control)

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 3 December 1969.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South 12:00, 3 December 1969

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what study he has made of the report by Dr. Geoffrey Williams, of Southampton University, copy of which has been sent to him, on the cancellation of the TSR2; if he is satisfied that the control over project now exercised by his Department ensures that such projects are re-appraised in the light of all the evidence available; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

I have read Dr. Williams' report with interest. Current procedures provide for major projects to be reviewed regularly so that any factors, such as slippage in time scale, increase in cost, or technical problems, which may affect the viability of a project, can be properly evaluated and appropriate decisions taken at the earliest possible stage.

Photo of Mr Frederick Corfield Mr Frederick Corfield , Gloucestershire South

Is it not abundantly clear that Dr. Williams' conclusion that the industrial and technological lessons of the TRS2 have not been learned or incorporated in the current system of decision-making is well founded, and is this not exemplified, in particular, by the fiasco of the Fill and the reduction of the R and D budgets of both the hon. Gentleman's Ministry and the Ministry of Technology?

Photo of Sir John Morris Sir John Morris Minister of State (Ministry of Defence) (Defence Equipment)

I do not accept the hon. Gentleman's strictures. As regards the TSR2, Dr. Williams accepts in the preface to his report that the decision was correct. Since that time, especially as regards the current development of the M.R.C.A., our procedures for control of projects have been developed and refined. The M.R.C.A., for example, is a collaborative venture in which the defence budgets of more than one country are involved. Our expertise in these matters has been improved in the last few years, and we have recently adopted the recommendations of the Downey Steering Group.