HC Deb 31 July 1997 vol 299 cc465-6W
Mr. Bruce George

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the replacement of the service currently provided by the Wessex helicopters of No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron. [12473]

Mr. Spellar

The two Wessex aircraft used by No. 32 (The Royal) Squadron are nearly 30 years old and are becoming increasingly costly to maintain and operate. At the request of the royal household, we will therefore shortly issue invitations to tender to UK helicopter operators to provide a service based on a single helicopter. The cost of the new service will be met by the royal household from the royal travel grant in aid and should provide significant savings.