Carrier project contributes to MoD overspend

Construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth at Babcock's, Rosyth shipyard, Scotland. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123920-260)
Construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth at Babcock's, Rosyth shipyard, Scotland. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (123920-260)
HMS Duncan has returned to Portsmouth after spending three months in the Mediterranean Picture:  L/Phot Louise George

HMS Duncan returns to Portsmouth after three months away at sea

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WORK on the construction of HMS Queen Elizabeth has added an extra £217m to the defence budget in the last year, according to figures released today.

The National Audit Office (NAO) has released its annual report into big spending 
by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

While the overall picture shows the government has managed its money better than previous years, there has been an additional £217m added to the forecast cost of the Queen Elizabeth-class carrier project.

The NAO says the overspend is due to the MoD having a better understanding of the costs.

The report said: ‘It would be unrealistic to expect the MoD and industry to identify every risk at the start of technically challenging projects.

‘However, the continuing problems indicate the MoD has more to learn from historic performance, and in particular set realistic timetables, although it believes it has started to do so in some cases.’

Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock says the MoD needs to get its act together and put a stop to spiralling defence costs.

‘Having sat on the defence committee through the early days of the carriers it was predictable then that there was so much wheeling and dealing within the MoD it was inevitable it was going to go hugely over-budget.

‘Once again they have gone out to a contractor and haven’t thought through the project until after they have done the deal.

‘They need to get their act together.’

When asked for a comment by The News, the MoD released a statement from defence secretary Philip Hammond.

It said: ‘Unlike the previous government, who let spending spiral out of control, we have taken the tough decisions necessary to get the equipment plan under control.

‘Factors outside of the department’s control are responsible for three quarters of the cost increase over the past year.’

HMS Queen Elizabeth, which will be based in Portsmouth when she eventually comes into service, is currently under construction at a shipyard in Rosyth, Scotland.

Parts of the ship have been built all over the country, including at BAE Systems’ shipyard in Portsmouth.