The Ministry of Defence only uses non-disclosure agreements in its commercial arrangements by exception, when there is a specific need. Although no trend analysis has been undertaken, it remains the case that NDAs are only used where absolutely necessary.
I accept that NDAs are important in terms of financial contractual obligations, but is the Minister aware that his Department is asking industry, at pre-bid stage, to sign NDAs that actually exclude those companies from being able to speak to MPs or Ministers? I understand that some US primes such as Boeing and Lockheed Martin are refusing to sign them—quite rightly—so why is the Department now getting companies to sign these NDAs for contracts such as Skynet?
I am not aware of any company complaining about NDAs. If the right hon. Gentleman is aware of some, I would really encourage those companies to get in contact with me directly and I will take it up.
There are many means, including through trade associations, whereby companies can put the word to Ministers if they are concerned. NDAs do have a valuable role, including protecting the interests of the commercial entities themselves; they normally work both ways. Many companies are reluctant to share intellectual property, and research and development, with another entity without having their own position protected, so NDAs have a benefit for companies as well.