§ Mr. Edwards
To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in the procurement of a replacement radio system for the ambulance service; when he anticipates the contract will be awarded; and when he expects the new system to be in operation. 
§ Ms Rosie Winterton
The current negotiations are continuing and it is expected that a decision to announce the designated supplier of the new digital network and infrastructure is imminent. A designated supplier for a second contract for the provision of the radio handsets, fixed mobiles, ambulance control room equipment and integration will be announced very soon after.
Following Capital Investment Branch (CIB), Her Majesties Treasury (HMT), Office of Government Commerce and appropriate board approvals, it is expected that the contract will be awarded mid to late May 2004.
Following the award of contract, a pilot implementation will be undertaken at an English trust, followed by a full roll out across Great Britain.
The timetable sets out an end date of late 2006–07 for all ambulance services in Great Britain to be fully operative.