§ Mr. Viggers
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what is his latest estimate of the costs of operating search and rescue services by helicopters using private contractors, relative to the cost of providing such services through the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.
§ Mr. Norris
The three search and rescue helicopters under contract to the Coastguard agency cost approximately £7.5 million per year. Ministry of Defence helicopters which are provided primarily for military purposes are also made available for civil SAR. The Coastguard agency does not pay for civil use of Royal Air Force helicopters; it pays for the use of Royal Navy helicopters only out of working hours. The agency's estimate of using contracted helicopters to replace all the MOD SAR helicopters units is some £22.5 million. Those figures do not include the cost of SAR for incidents on land for which the Coastguard agency has no responsibilities.