AN SNP MP has criticised the Government for producing a factsheet on Trident that she claims isn’t very factual, especially when it comes to the cost.

The two-page document of pithy sentences and colourful clipart was recently sent to every MP in the country by Defence Minister Philip Dunne, who was urging the politicians to back the replacement of the UK’s nuclear weapons.

Kirsten Oswald said the minister’s simple factsheet showed the government was struggling to “put together a coherent case” for Trident’s renewal.

The factsheet suggests that spend on the submarines would be spread over 35 years, which the SNP claims, “is clearly at odds with the need to find up to £41 billion of capital spend at the front-end of the programme”.

The leaflet also claims: “Our nuclear deterrent should influence the decision-making of any state that might consider transferring nuclear weapons or nuclear technology to terrorists.”

This, the SNP says, implies the Government could launch a Trident missile against states whose leaders aid terrorists, even if they offered no direct threat to the UK. Oswald said: “This material demonstrates that the UK Government is struggling to put together a coherent case for this scale of commitment to a single, unusable, weapons system.

“The notion that funding for the submarines will be spread over 35 years is sheer dishonesty. It will have to be found up front like other capital expenditure, unless the Government will be using PFI for the submarines, a ridiculous proposition, even for this government.

“For the MoD to even hint we will deter nuclear terrorism by threatening rulers like Kim Jong Un with nuclear weapons shows how desperate they are to make this relic of the cold war seem relevant to the modern age.

An MoD spokesperson said the SNP were wrong on spending: “We take our responsibility to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent extremely seriously. Payment is only made to contractors as work is done – to say that the capital expenditure will need to be at the front end of the programme is factually wrong. No organisation would adopt that approach.”

The Government’s estimate is that manufacturing the four Successor submarines, if approved by Parliament, “is likely to cost” a total of £31bn with a contingency of £10bn, with the first submarine entering service in the early 2030s.

A recent report by small but influential think-tank the British American Security Information Council suggests the Government could be out on their estimates and suggest it could increase by a further 50 per cent in the next few years. The report, Feeding the Monster, points out that in 2006 the estimated cost stood at £11-£14bn, but had jumped to £25bn by 2011 and £31bn by 2015.

Dr Ritchie says the “opaque” reporting of the funding questions the ability of parliament to properly assess the “biggest capital project ever undertaken by MoD”.

He writes: “It would be heroic indeed to expect the project to stay roughly within the current public estimates released in November 2015, even with the addition of the £10bn contingency. This leaves parliament and the public with the question of ‘how much is enough?’

“At what point does the cost of the “monster” project become too much, particularly when there’s little guarantee that emerging technologies will not render it a liability before the first submarine even comes into service? Will parliament only find out when it is too late and billions more have been committed? “