Docks scheme pounds 193m in red

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UPGRADING BRITAIN'S Royal Dockyards is pounds 193m overspent and up to six years behind schedule, a damning Commons report has found.

The all-party Public Accounts Committee concluded that poor Ministry of Defence management had led to major delays to the refitting projects for nuclear submarines at Rosyth and Devonport.

The delays were so serious they risked jeopardising the operational capability of the Royal Navy's most expensive fighting machines.

In the report published yesterday, MPs also found that taxpayers had lost a further pounds 20m because the last Tory government sold off the yards cheaply. There was no competition for the privatisation, MPs found, with contractors Babcock Rosyth Defence and Devonport Management the only bidders for each site.

MPs described the overspend on refurbishment as "wholly unacceptable". Even though the yards are privately owned, the MoD is paying to upgrade their facilities to ensure that nuclear submarines can be adequately refitted. But overspending had been "massive", totalling pounds 193m, equivalent to a rise of 57 per cent on the original estimate.