§ Mr. Jim Cunningham
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the new transporters for Challenger 2 tanks. 
§ Mr. Spellar
The MOD will shortly issue an invitation to four consortia to negotiate for a private-sector financed solution to the Army's heavy equipment transporter requirement, with the aim that the service is provide from 2002. This is the first programme to invite solutions to invite solutions for an operational combat support vehicle 443W through the Private Finance Initiative. The consortia are also being invited to explore options for the employment of Sponsored Reserves to deliver the service. A decision on the way forward is expected in early 2000, with a contract let later that year following final negotiations with the preferred bidder.