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Aircraft Carriers

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what he calculates to be the taxpayer's liability under the contractual arrangements he is proposing between his Department, BAE Systems and Thales for the construction of the two new aircraft carriers. [98580]

We are now in discussion with BAE Systems and Thales UK to confirm that the proposed alliance partnership offers the best means of delivering the future aircraft carrier programme and will be capable of operating effectively. We also intend that the Ministry of Defence should take up a formal role within the Alliance. The precise roles and responsibilities of the alliance members will be determined through negotiations. At the conclusion of the negotiations, theMinistry of Defence will be required to demonstrate that it has completely bounded the Government's liabilities under the terms of the prime contract, which we plan to award in the spring of 2004.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress in negotiations on construction of the new aircraft carriers. [99860]

Discussions with BAE Systems and Thales UK on the Alliance structure for the aircraft carrier programme are progressing. Although I cannot go into the detail of the commercial negotiations, both companies are engaging positively in the process and we anticipate moving forward to the next phase of assessment work in the next few months.