To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussion he has had with the aerospace industry in relation to the EFA programme.
I have regular discussions about EFA, with the companies concerned. In addition, several major companies and the Society of British Aerospace companies have provided me with assessments of the industrial importance of the EFA programme in the context of the present uncertainties about Germany's future participation in the project.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will draw up a contingency plan for continuing with the European fighter project to deal with the situation should the German Government withdraw or partially withdraw their support.
The Government hope that Germany will not withdraw its support for the European fighter aircraft programme, which is the largest European collaborative project and which represents the most cost-effective solution to the requirements of all four partner nations. If the German Government did, however, decide not to join the production phase of the project, we would need to consider with the remaining partner nations the additional costs, and benefits, of proceeding without Germany's full participation. I hope that in such circumstances it would be possible to continue with the programme on a three-nation basis.
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what alternatives there are to the European fighter aircraft in terms of British defence capability.
In its recent report on the project, the Defence Committee concluded that there was currently no sign of any alternative to EFA which could begin to offer the same level of performance at an acceptable cost, with anything approaching comparable technological benefits. That is the Government's view too.