Criticism over blacked-out carrier figures

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The Ministry of Defence has been accused of covering up potentially embarrassing details of the deal for two new £5.2bn aircraft carriers.

Financial information about the deal for the 65,000-tonne warships was obscured with thick black ink when 500 pages of documents and were finally published by officials.

Prime Minister David Cameron revealed after the Strategic Defence Review last year that the government could not save money by axing one carrier because the deal was 'unbreakable'.

MPs on the House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee are investigating the terms of the commercial agreements to determine if they provided the public with value for money.

MP Austin Mitchell, a committee member, criticised the MoD's decision to black out the figures.

He said: 'The MoD don't want to be shown up for their incompetent negotiations.'

The Terms of Business Agreement signed with BAE Systems reveals the company will be the exclusive builder of warships until 2024.

The contract also guarantees BAE taxpayers' money to retain engineering jobs if there is insufficient work.