HC Deb 21 January 1986 vol 90 cc134-5W
Mr. Teddy Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Defence why his national armaments director agreed at a recent meeting with the national armaments directors of France, Germany and Italy that certain helicopter requirements should, in future, be met solely from aircraft designed and built in Europe; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Norman Lamont

When they met in London on 29 November, the armament directors of Britain, France, Germany and Italy were invited to review progress towards the achievement of the goals set out in the declaration of principles signed in 1978 by the Defence Ministers of the four nations; and to make recommendations as to how they should be pursued in future.

They concluded that good progress had been made in a number of important areas, notably with EH 101, with the launch of feasibility studies on the NATO helicopter for the 1990s (NH90), and in the field of collaboration on helicopter engines. They recommended that Ministers should commission a single European helicopter programme (in place of the PAH/HAC3G and Al29 Mk 2) in order to maximise both the operational benefits of standardisation and the industrial benefits of a longer production run.

The armament directors further recommend that the needs of the forces of the four nations for helicopters in the three classes referred to should be met "solely" by helicopters designed and built in Europe. I understand that what they had in mind was that it would be a natural expectation that nations participating in the joint development of these helicopters would, other things being equal, purchase the resulting machines for use by their armed forces.

However, if applied in a wider context, the use of the word "solely" could be interpreted as going beyond the intentions of the 1978 declaration of principles to which, as the Prime Minister made clear on 15 January 1985, at column 1093, we still adhere.

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