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Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:22 pm on 23rd May 1995.

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Photo of Mr Michael Heseltine Mr Michael Heseltine President of the Board of Trade 4:22 pm, 23rd May 1995

The hon. Gentleman asked a question from a sedentary position. If he asks it formally, I shall answer it.

The Ministry of Defence has every interest in securing the transparency of the competitive process. The Ministry of Defence is a customer. I know from experience that it does that job with great concern and care, and it has every interest in ensuring that it obtains the best value for money. It will continue to do so, and the minority view clearly made the point that it is expert in doing that.

I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will recognise that, as I said, this is not an easy decision. I take very seriously the opinions of the MMC, but I think that, in view of the fact that it was a split decision, and in view of the fact that the Ministry of Defence had such clear opinions about what the interests of the customer were, it is right to allow either of those two bids to proceed, and right for the market to determine what happens. I have no preferences one way or another. I have no knowledge whether either or both the bids will proceed.