Drops

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 9 March 1993.

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Photo of Mike Hall Mike Hall , Warrington South 12:00, 9 March 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the future of the demountable rack-off loading and pick-up system.

Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , South Thanet

Negotiations with the receiver of Leyland DAF, which we hope will result in the completion of the order for medium mobility DROPS vehicles at Leyland, are in progress.

Photo of Mike Hall Mike Hall , Warrington South

The Government have a contract with Leyland DAF to provide this particular system at a cost of £387 million, of which £80 million has already been spent. Will the Minister confirm that Dr. McIntosh, the chief of defence procurement, has written to the Department of Trade and Industry to say that it is in the taxpayers' best interests if the production of this system remains at Leyland DAF? What response has Dr. McIntosh had from the DTI?

Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , South Thanet

The chief of defence procurement does, of course, consult Ministers and did so before writing that particular letter. It is our hope that the order can be completed at Leyland. It is encouraging that the receivers have managed to restart some production, including that of DROPS vehicles. We are working with the receivers to see how we can best facilitate the completion of the order, which is in both our best interests.

Photo of Eric Martlew Eric Martlew , Carlisle

On 12 February, in a written reply to a question regarding the future of Leyland DAF, the Minister stated that a preliminary assessment was being carried out with regard to the fact that the MOD had ordered 2,400 Army vehicles that had yet to be delivered by Leyland DAF. Did that assessment state that there was an urgent need for those vehicles and that if Leyland DAF did not carry out the order there would be a considerable delay in delivering them? Did that assessment also point out the possibility that the order could go to the continent if it was not met by Leyland DAF?

Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , South Thanet

I do not think that the assessment was quite as far ranging and sweeping as the hon. Gentleman suggests. I shall certainly check the true position. The fact is that in the present unhappy situation we are co-operating to the full with the present receivers of Leyland DAF.