§ 11. Mr. Ben Chapman (Wirral, South)
When he will announce decisions on orders for auxiliary vessels for the Royal Navy. [1226491
§ The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Dr. Lewis Moonie)
An invitation to tender was issued to five UK companies in early April to bid for the contract to supply two alternative landing ships logistic, 13 which will support amphibious operations by carrying troops and their equipment into theatre. We expect to place the contract before the end of this year. In addition, we hope to announce a decision on the provision of a strategic sealift service later this year
§ Mr. Chapman
Is my hon. Friend aware that some yards, including Cammell Laird, felt obliged to withdraw from the tendering process for the ALSLs because they thought that the points system did not allow them to compete fairly? Is he satisfied that the tendering process was fair and right? Is he also satisfied that the tendering process for the ro-ro vessels will be equally fair and right, that it will give UK yards every chance to bid successfully for those vessels, and that it will do so equitably between the yards?
§ Dr. Moonie
I can confirm that our tendering process is fair and right. It is always disappointing when companies feel unable to remain in the process, but we cannot as a rule devise our specifications on that basis. With regard to roll on/roll off ferries, I confirm that no decision has yet been taken on who will be awarded the contract, and bids from the four consortiums involved are still being assessed by the Ministry of Defence. As my right hon. Friend has already announced, the intention is to place the contract later this year.
§ Mr. Nicholas Soames (Mid-Sussex)
Is the hon. Gentleman entirely satisfied with the process used by the Ministry of Defence for the tendering for and the procurement of vessels for the hydrographer's department? Will he examine the process, and let me know whether he believes that it was thorough and entirely fair not only to the yards that tendered, but to the owners who wanted to become involved?
§ Dr. Moonie
So far as I know, that is the case—but I shall happily consider the matter and write to the hon. Gentleman.
§ Mr. Quentin Davies (Grantham and Stamford)
Can the hon. Gentleman give an example of any other EU or NATO country that has placed orders for naval vessels, naval auxiliary vessels or roll on/roll off ferries with military application—if he can find such an example—other than with their own shipyards?
§ Dr. Moonie
It appears that the pro-European member of the Opposition Front-Bench team has caught the disease from the shadow Secretary of State; every time he stands up, he is becoming more anti-European by degrees. I confirm that all ships with a military application are sourced in this country; those without are subjected—as is correct—to the EC tendering process.