Skip to main content

Bearskins

Volume 447: debated on Monday 12 June 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many bearskins have been purchased by the armed forces in each of the last five years; at what cost; and from which country they were sourced. (76167)

The number of bearskin caps purchased for the Guards Regiments in each of the last five years are as follows:

Bearskin caps procured in the last Five years

Number

2001

63

2002

179

2003

90

2004

111

2005

51

Total

494

The average cost of a bearskin cap is £650 each.

The bearskins used are provided by licensed fur traders under the jurisdiction of the Canadian authorities.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to use synthetic materials instead of animal fur in the construction of bearskins. (76168)

There have been a number of contracts let with commercial companies to develop a synthetic replacement for bearskins. There has been a trial of caps made from material provided by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). Problems were identified with these caps which included unsatisfactory performance in typical wet weather conditions. Nonetheless we are continuing to work with PETA to find an alternative, and all parties concerned with the trials are taking the search for an alternative to bearskins very seriously.

If an alternative is sourced and found to be fit for purpose, replacement of bearskins will be considered. This has already happened in a number of cases as, for example, with the “busby cap” used by the Royal Horse Artillery.