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Volume 474: debated on Thursday 3 April 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what orders for bearskin caps for the Guards Regiments are (a) outstanding and (b) planned. (197731)

There are no outstanding orders for the procurement of bearskin caps. Future requirements are kept under review.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what steps are being taken by his Department to identify an alternative material to bearskin for Guards Regiments caps. (197767)

The MOD has been actively seeking an acceptable alternative to real fur for some years and continues to invest in samples and treatments of imitation bearskin. Although successful in identifying fur alternatives for other aspects of ceremonial dress, replicating the complex structure of bear's fur has proven to be a significant challenge and no suitable fur alternative to the Guards bearskin cap has yet been identified. A number of trials have taken place but unfortunately proved unsuccessful. Further trials will take place once suitable products have been identified.