The Ministry of Defence is set to announce a tranche of prime contracts this week after criticism from main contractors that too few contracts had been released.

The announcement, which was due to have been made yesterday at a Defence Estates conference, will coincide with the publication of details of the terms for prime contracts.

Defence Estates commercial director Ted Pearson said: “At the moment, there is no form of contract for a prime contract, so we want to get information out to people about how they will work in practice. Contracts will be project-specific, but there will be common conditions.”

However, the MOD has still to select its preferred bidder for the first prime contracts for the construction of a £30m jetty at the Faslane naval base in Scotland and the redevelopment of North Site army barracks in Andover, Hampshire.

Meanwhile, contractors are complaining that NHS Estates’ proposed framework, Procure 21, will not promote best value. It is understood that NHS Estates will select six national contractors, which will bid for £25m-plus contracts, while local firms will bid for contracts of £1m-25m.

National contractors say that, even if they qualify for one of the top spots, they will still have only a one-in-six chance of winning each contract. “That’s no better than we are facing at the moment,” said one main contractor.