HC Deb 20 March 1998 vol 308 cc744-5W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy in respect of selecting national champions from amongst United Kingdom suppliers bidding for defence export orders; and if he will make a statement. [34710]

Mr. Spellar

As a general policy the Ministry of Defence, by means of the Defence Export Services Organisation, DESO, provides equal support to all United Kingdom suppliers bidding for defence export orders. However, both Government and industry accept that, where there is a likelihood of competing British firms damaging each others' prospects and thereby jeopardising British success, DESO should concentrate its support on the company most likely to win.

In adopting this approach we aim to work by mutual agreement with industry and the following general principles are applied:

  1. (a) MOD (DESO) will not intervene, unless it is considered necessary to avoid damage to British prospects;
  2. (b) The assessment of this must be well founded but not become a ponderous bureaucratic exercise;
  3. (c) While HMG will focus their support behind a single British firm, we have no powers to, and do not seek to, instruct other British firms to withdraw; nor of course, will we comment adversely on the companies or products upon which our support is not being focused;
  4. (d) Any case for focusing Government support in this way is subject to Ministerial endorsement. The companies concerned are informed of the action to be taken and are provided with the reasons.