To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to make a decision regarding suppliers of the A3XX and A400m projects; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Mr. Alan Johnson:
[holding answer 14 December 1999]: Airbus has been a major success story of European co-operation, and it is important that the UK continues to be involved in it. British companies benefit from the success of Airbus programmes, not only by supplying to BAE SYSTEMS, the UK partner in Airbus, but also to the French, German and Spanish partners. Procurement choices are the commercial decisions of those companies. Over 400 UK sub-contractors and suppliers are currently working on Airbus programmes.
BAE SYSTEMS has applied for launch investment. In assessing this application, we have looked at the potential benefits for the UK economy as a whole to be secured by this programme. It represents the sort of high-tech knowledge based manufacturing which the Government are keen to encourage. This high level of innovation and technology has benefits which cascade throughout the supply chain.
The Future Transport Aircraft competition is being organised by the Ministry of Defence. However, I am well aware of the industrial significance of this project to BAE SYSTEMS and the UK supply chain. My Department has liaised closely with MOD on this, and the decision (expected in the New Year) will properly take account of industrial factors.