HC Deb 28 June 1988 vol 136 cc179-80
2. Mr. Dykes

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the level of collaboration between the United Kingdom and the Federal Republic of Germany on advanced defence equipment projects.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Tim Sainsbury)

The Federal Republic of Germany has been one of our most frequent and successful partners in co-operative equipment procurement programmes, and is likely to remain so.

Mr. Dykes

I thank my hon. Friend for that answer. Does he agree that as we are happily taking the lead on key aspects in the development of the European fighter aircraft—for example, the airframe and engine—in the true spirit of European co-operation with the Germans, it would be right and fair for other aspects of the development programme to be led by other partners, including Germany? In particular, I refer to radar.

Mr. Sainsbury

My hon. Friend will be aware that the MOU for the European fighter aircraft provides for a work share based on the declared off-take of participating countries. Therefore, the work share of a country or company for any particular piece of equipment will depend upon the assessment of competitive bids that are sought for each type of equipment.

Ms. Short

Does the Minister agree that there is enormous worry in Germany about a strategy that might involve a nuclear war being fought on its soil and that that is likely to undermine co-operation? Is it true that, in evidence to the Defence Select Committee, his Department recently said that Britain's and NATO's strategy is to look forward to a limited nuclear war in Europe?

Mr. Sainsbury

I hope the hon. Lady recognises that NATO's strategy is to prevent war.

Mr. Jack

One other successful collaborative venture with Germany has been the Tornado. When will my hon. Friend make an announcement about the mid-life update of that aeroplane?

Mr. Sainsbury

I agree that that has been a remarkably successful collaborative venture. However, I cannot answer my hon. Friend's particular question at this stage.

Mr. Rogers

Does the Minister accept that it is about time that the West Germans committed themselves to the ECR 90 radar rather than pursuing the route of the American Phantom derivation? Does he further accept that the ECR 90 radar is important to British industry, not only because it is of European design and fulfils all the operational requirements of the European fighter aircraft, but, more than that, because it safeguards our technology and prevents us from becoming subservient to the Americans in this important sector? It will also save many thousands of jobs in Scotland.

Mr. Sainsbury

I agree that the radar is a vital part of the equipment of the EFA. However, the hon. Gentleman will be aware that competitive bids from two consortia, both of which include British companies, are being analysed.