[holding answer 30 January 2007]: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave on 6 February 2006, Official Report, column 824W, to the hon. Member for Wellingborough (Mr. Bone), which explains the financial contribution made by France.
Up to 31 December 2006, the UK has spent £411 million on the Future Aircraft Carrier (CVF) Project. This comprises £4 million on the concept phase, £300 million on the assessment phase and £107 million on the demonstration phase.
This work has produced a Common Baseline Design that both UK and France can use to develop and build their own carriers. Our co-operation with France will bring savings in design costs, and offers the potential of savings on manufacture and support. It will be up to UK and French industry to make the most of the opportunities provided by this commonality during the next phase of the respective programmes.
Good progress is being made on the CVF demonstration phase work, which is aimed at maturing the risks, costs and the contractual framework for building the carriers. The culmination of this work will enable us to agree a robust, affordable deal and take a decision to commit to manufacture. It is at this stage that the in-service dates will be announced.