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Aircraft Sales (Saudi Arabia)

Volume 450: debated on Friday 20 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what assessment he has made of the effect of the sale of 72 Eurofighter aircraft by BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia on political and military stability in (a) the region and (b) Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement; (92375)

(2) what assessment he has made of the financial effects on the UK of the recent sale of Eurofighter aircraft by BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what the total costs to the UK incurred by the Defence Export Services Organisation and other Government Departments and individuals were in promoting the sale of Eurofighter aircraft by BAE Systems to Saudi Arabia; and if he will make a statement.

The sale of Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft to Saudi Arabia is fully consistent with our policy of supporting the efforts of the Gulf Co-operation Council States, of which Saudi Arabia is the biggest, in promoting regional stability. It also meets the legitimate defence requirements of the Saudi armed forces. Negotiations on the commercial arrangements for the sale are continuing and a full assessment of the financial effects would not be possible until their conclusion. However, as the then Secretary of State for Defence stated in December last year, the deal represents good news for both UK and Saudi industry and will help sustain several thousand UK jobs over the next 10 years.

The negotiations on the Understanding Document signed last December, which set out the intention to establish greater partnership in modernising the Saudi armed forces, and on the subsequent commercial arrangements for the sale of Typhoon aircraft have been led by this Department. The costs associated with these activities have been recovered from a management fee received from the Saudi Arabian Government. No record has been kept of that element of the management fees used to cover the above costs and one could be provided only at disproportionate cost.