§ Mr. Spellar
It is for defence companies themselves to take the lead on determining the future structure of the industry. However, we recognise that Governments, who are the only legitimate buyers of defence equipment, can have a major constructive influence. Accordingly, the UK, France and Germany have been working together to set a baseline position for the restructuring of the European aerospace and defence industries. These discussions culminated in the issue of a statement by the three Heads of Government on 9 December. The clear message of the statement is that the three Governments, whose industries form the bulk of the European defence industrial base, are now working together to facilitate the process of change.
A programme of work to resolve practical issues falling mainly within the sphere of Defence Ministers has been agreed and is being taken forward by the National Armaments Directors of the three nations.
§ Mr. Key
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with(a) United Kingdom defence companies, (b) foreign-owned defence companies based in the United Kingdom, (c) foreign defence companies, (d) foreign governments and (e) the European 383W Commission on the Government's role in facilitating international agreements to allow mergers or joint ventures to proceed. 
§ Mr. Spellar
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence meets a wide range of defence companies, both UK and foreign, on a regular basis. Where appropriate, discussions at these meetings cover defence industry restructuring and the Government's role in facilitating this.
The Governments of the UK, France and Germany have been working together to establish a baseline position for the restructuring of the European aerospace and defence industries. These discussions culminated in the issue of a statement by the three heads of Government on 9 December.
There have been no discussions as yet with the European Commission.