AN MP yesterday questioned whether troubled Tyneside shipyard Swan Hunter should be in the running for work on the Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

Richard Bacon, Conservative MP for South Norfolk, yesterday suggested Swan's should not be considered for the job based on the soaring cost of building two transport vessels at the yard.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) recently revealed that the cost of building the Largs Bay and Lyme Bay at Swan's Wallsend yard has risen to more than £300m, compared with an original estimate of about £160m.

But Swan's is still hopeful of securing a major share of the work on the multi-billion pound aircraft carrier project, which could create hundreds of jobs in Tyneside and Teesside.

Over the past two days, the Government has faced a storm of criticism from Tories over delays in the building of the £3.5bn carriers, which are intended to replace the two Invincible class ships.

On Monday, Shadow Defence Secretary Michael Ancram said the project was completely adrift and had descended into "a sorry saga of incompetence".

Last month, the MoD dropped its target date of 2012 for the first of the carriers.

It emerged that the final decision to go ahead with the project - the so-called "main gate" stage - may not be reached by the end of this year, as planned.

Defence Procurement Minister Lord Drayson has told MPs that he has no target date for the main gate to be reached.