§ Mr. Hepburn
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what efforts are being made in negotiations with the preferred bidder for ro-ros to ensure that strategic sealift service vessels are crewed by UK officers and ratings; 
(2) what progress has been made in the negotiations with the preferred bidder for the ro-ro ferries. 
(3) if, in the event that negotiations with the preferred bidder for the ro-ros fails, the other short listed bidders remain available to continue the competition. 
§ Dr. Moonie
This is a matter for the chief executive of the Defence Procurement Agency. I have asked the chief executive to write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from Sir Robert Walmsley to Mr. Stephen Hepburn, dated 28 February 2000:
I am replying to your three questions to the Secretary of State for Defence regarding the RoRo Strategic Sealift project. This matter falls within my area of responsibility as Chief of Defence Procurement and Chief Executive of the Defence Procurement Agency.
Negotiations continue with the preferred bidder with a view to placing a contract in the near future. In the event that it does not prove possible to place a contract with the preferred bidder, we would consider other options, one of which would be to reopen discussions with the other contractors who submitted proposals last year.
With regard to your question about the crewing of the vessels, when on MOD business the vessels will be manned by British UK officers and ratings. When not on MOD business, the ships will be trading commercially and their manning then will be a commercial matter for the company. However, to meet their potential MOD requirements, AWSR will be required at all times to ensure availability of sufficient British seafarers to Han all six vessels.