HC Deb 29 October 1987 vol 121 c445
Q1. Mr. Dalyel

I asked the Prime Minister what has been the total Government contract expenditure committed to Westland since January 1986.

The Prime Minister (Mrs. Margaret Thatcher)

The work of Westland Helicopters Ltd. for the Ministry of Defence in support of the existing helicopter fleet is worth some £60 million per annum. Negotiations are nearing completion for eight new Sea Kings, worth over £25 million. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence announced on 9 April that orders worth over £300 million are planned for an initial batch of 25 utility version EH101 and 16 Lynx helicopters.

Mr. Dalyell

On 27 January, at column 657, the right hon. Lady assured my. hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) that she did not know about the role of the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry over the disclosure until after the inquiry had reported. Will she confirm that Mr. Charles Powell did his duty as a civil servant and kept the Prime Minister fully informed about the disclosure?

The Prime Minister

The question that the hon. Gentleman has put on the Order Paper is about Government contract expenditure committed to Westland since January 1986. On the other matters, I have answered in detail and stand by what I have said.

Mr. Wilkinson

Is it not the case that the first flight of the prototype of the Anglo-Italian EH101 augurs well for that aeroplane, as was the case with the collaborative Puma, Lynx and Gazelle before it? For the future of Westland, is it not also important that we should take part in expanding European participation in space, as Westland Aerospace has an important contribution to make in that area, which is of great significance for British industry?

The Prime Minister

We hope that the development of the EH 101 will proceed satisfactorily so that the orders can be fully and properly negotiated. With regard to work on space, I have nothing to add to what I said previously. As my hon. Friend is aware, we give a subscription of about £100 million to the European Space Agency. At present we simply could not do any more than that because the amount of taxpayers' money that goes to research and development is very considerable. At present, further money is coming from the private sector. [Interruption.]

Mr. Speaker

Order. Can we concentrate on these questions and not on those who are wearing fancy dress?

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