§ Mr. McNamara
asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if any attempt was made by his Department 133W to solicit from Mr. Trafford Boughton a letter dissociating himself and his company from the British Broadcasting Corporation "Panorama" programme of 7 July 1986 on the awarding of the DROPS contract;
(2) if it was with ministerial authority that Major-General Stevan Stopford telephoned Mr. Trafford Boughton on 30 June 1986 requesting him to send a letter immediately to the Department dissociating himself and his company from the British Broadcasting Corporation "Panorama" programme of 7 July 1986 on the awarding of the DROPS contract;
(3) if it was with ministerial authority that officials of his Department (a) spoke on the telephone to Mr. Trafford Boughton in April and May 1986 and (b) spoke to him in person at the British Army equipment exhibition concerning a proposed television programme on the awarding of the DROPS contract;
(4) if his Department keeps any record of (a) telephone conversations and (b) informal discussions between officials and defence contractors or potential defence contractors.
(5) on what authority General Stopford was asked to ascertain directly from Mr. Trafford Boughton his attitude to the BBC "Panorama" programme on the DROPS contract;
(6) on what dates General Stopford sought to ascertain directly from Mr. Trafford Boughton his attitude to the DROPS contract;
(7) what was the source of his information that Mr. Trafford Boughton's conversation with General Stopford accorded exactly with the line volunteered on a separate occasion at the British Army equipment exhibition to the Chief of Defence Procurement and Brigadier Last;
(8) whether he will publish in the Official Report a report of the conversation between Mr. Trafford Boughton, the Chief of Defence Procurement and Brigadier Last at the British Army equipment exhibition;
(9) on what authority Brigadier Last and the Chief of Defence Procurement sought at the British Army equipment exhibition to ascertain Mr. Trafford Boughton's attitude to the "Panorama" programme on the DROPS contract.134W
§ Mr. Archie Hamilton
[pursuant to his replies, 12 January 1987, c. 98, and 23 January 1987]: As I informed the hon. Member on 13 January, at column 232, the telephone conversation between Major-General Stopford and Mr. Boughton was prompted by the need to confirm the extent to which Boughton's was involved in the criticisms of the DROPS procurement in the proposed "Panorama" programme. Boughton's is an established and respected defence contractor of long standing and it was important, given the normal rules of commercial confidentiality underlying the Department's relationship with its contractors, that the Department should be quite sure of the company's position before deciding on what it might itself say publicly in response to the "Panorama" criticisms. There are no contemporary records of either the telephone conversation with Major-General Stopford or of the conversation with senior defence officials at the British Army equipment exhibition at which Mr. Boughton volunteered similar statements to those expressed in his letter. Ministers were not involved on either occasion. The conversation at BAEE was, however, initiated by Mr. Boughton himself and he did not subsequently refer to either event when invited by my noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement to detail his concerns over the DROPS procurement at their meeting on 20 November. No pressure was put on Mr. Boughton to write his letter of 30 June and Mr. Boughton has not made any such representation directly to the responsible Ministers or senior officials.