My Lords, we have had report after report and promise after promise. Why should we have any faith in any of them? Yesterday, fortuitously for me—but not for the Minister—the National Audit Office produced its annual Ministry of Defence equipment plan report. Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said:
“The Department’s Equipment Plan is not affordable. At present the affordability gap ranges from a minimum of £4.9bn to £20.8bn if financial risks materialise and ambitious savings are not achieved”.
When reading the report, I got as far as page 14, on costs not included in the plan:
“As a consequence of the Strategic Defence and Security Review 2015, the Department introduced a number of new equipment commitments into the Plan. The Department was unable to demonstrate that all equipment requirements are now included within the Plan. We”— that is, the National Audit Office, the highest analysing body in the land—
“have established that the Plan does not include the costs of buying five Type 31e frigates”.
If there is an error of that order of magnitude in the plan, how can we have any faith in anything that comes out in the next few weeks or months?