§ Mr. Stan Thorne
asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what is the cost of producing one fur cap for the uniform of the Foot Guards;
(2) how many skins of black bears are used each year to manufacture Foot Guards' caps.
§ Mr. Goodhart
The cost of a complete bearskin cap is about £275. The Ministry of Defence buys on average some 100 black bear skins a year; bearskin caps have a long life and most skins are used to repair existing caps rather than to provide new ones.
The Ministry of Defence has a running research programme into the use of alternative materials for the caps. So far all attempts to find or develop an alternative with the necessary qualities for the Foot Guards ceremonial head-dress have proved unsuccessful.