To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the security of supply for propellants for the British armed forces. 
[holding answer 3 June 2003]: In 1999, the House of Commons Defence Select Committee (HCDC) examined security of supply of propellants as part of its inquiry into the proposed closure of Royal Ordnance Defence (ROD) Bishopton for commercial reasons. The Committee accepted that there were no strategic or defence reasons for the retention of ROD Bishopton. The subsequent review by the National Audit Office of the analysis underpinning the evidence presented by the Ministry of Defence of the HCDC concluded that this remained sound. Security of supply is taken into account when competing all requirements for ammunition including the propellant component; this is an integral part of the vetting process before tenders are progressed. In the event of bids being received from manufacturers or countries that could pose potential risk to security of supply, then these are discounted before the tender process is taken forward.