HC Deb 07 February 1989 vol 146 cc786-7
4. Mr. Quentin Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what has been achieved through the Anglo-French reciprocal purchasing initiative.

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

The progress of this initiative has been good. Some contracts have already been signed and more tenders are under consideration on both sides of the Channel. A French contracts bulletin is now being published, three successful conferences have been held and there are regular and increasing contacts between procurement staffs at all levels.

Mr. Davies

Given that public procurement in general would be on a non-discriminatory basis in the European single market after 1992, does my hon. Friend agree that in defence too, there are the strongest reasons for achieving maximum economies of scale in research and production and the greatest inter-operability of equipment? Does he accept that he and his colleagues will receive the strongest support in the House for any progress that they can make in that direction?

Mr. Sainsbury

My hon. Friend is right in identifying three of the main advantages to be obtained from agreements such as the one to which the question relates. First, there is a saving in research and development expenditure; secondly, there are savings from longer production runs; thirdly, of course, he raised the important point that there are benefits to the alliance from greater inter-operability of service equipment.