There is one contract where the maximum potential liability is set at 125 per cent. of the contract price; it is for the first Trident boat, HMS Vanguard. It has been agreed, however, that once the contract for the second boat has been placed, the normal liability limit of 100 per cent. of the contract price will apply to both contracts.
Does the Minister's answer not show the extent to which the Government lack confidence in their ability to sell the Trident project to the British electorate? Is not the high level of surcharge simply an illustration of the Government's attempt to try to bind a future Parliament — a Parliament in which there will be a majority of Labour Members opposed to the Trident scheme and keen to cancel it?
No. Cancellation charges of 125 per cent. were offered on the first contract to take into account the massive investment that had to be made by VSEL on the first boat and the long lead times. That is the maximum amount that might be spent. The work must be done before the money can be paid out.
What contracts will be under threat from the prospect of United States auditors being able to look at the books of United Kingdom companies? Is the Minister aware that this activity may well fall foul of the Official Secrets Act 1911 and lead to the companies involved being placed on the denials list and not being able to obtain equipment from the United States?