HC Deb 04 November 2002 vol 392 cc18-9
16. Mr. Gary Streeter (South-West Devon)

What recent assessment he has made of the reliability of British Army weapons. [76709]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram)

All weapons are continually assessed to ensure that they meet set reliability standards. If or when problems are reported, they are investigated immediately and action is taken as necessary.

Mr. Streeter

I thank the Minister for his reply. Is he aware that on recent exercises in Canada it was discovered that the Challenger 2 tank consistently broke down and there were difficulties with getting repairs and supplies, and that many of the men who rely on it for their lives have now lost confidence in that piece of equipment? What will he do about that, and will he assure the House that, before our tank regiments are sent into Iraq or anywhere else, they will have equipment on which they can rely?

Mr. Ingram

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave a few moments ago. We have to learn the lessons that may emerge from any given training scenario. Saif Sareea is an example of an exercise on which we learned some extremely valuable lessons. That is the purpose of training exercises, followed by the search for solutions, and it is the best way to build confidence. The SA80 is a good example of the process: we discovered issues relating to the rifle that needed to be dealt with, and that is what we did. We will apply that across the board to all pieces of equipment that are crucial to our front-line activities.