§ Mr. Maclean
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress his Department has made in selecting contractors for completion of the future aircraft carriers. 
§ Mr. Spellar
Invitations to Tender for the Assessment Phase of the Future Carrier programme were issued to 6 contractors on 25 January 1999. Up to 3 contracts will 19W be awarded towards the end of this year. We anticipate further down selection during the course of the Assessment Phase leading to the selection of a prime contractor in 2004.