I should like to provide an update to the House regarding the continuing programme of investment at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE).
On 3 April 2012 an agreement was reached between the Ministry of Defence and AWE Management Limited (AWEML) to continue the priced period of work, within the existing overarching 25-year contract with the company, to 31 March 2018. This agreement, providing important investment in skills and facilities at AWE, is valued at an average of around £1 billion per annum with approximately 40% to be invested in capital projects.
This arrangement, and the continuing need for investment in skills and facilities at AWE, is in accordance with the December 2006 White Paper “The Future of the United Kingdom’s Nuclear Deterrent” (Cm 6994) and the “Defence Plan 2008-2012” (Cm 7385). The programme of investment is continuing both to ensure we can maintain our existing nuclear warhead in service for as long as necessary, and to ensure we retain the capability to design and manufacture a replacement warhead should that be necessary.