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Army: Clothing

Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the merits of replacing bearskin caps worn by the Guards Regiments with caps made from synthetic material. (282942)

The Ministry of Defence has repeatedly demonstrated its commitment to the use of faux fur products in military ceremonial clothing wherever a suitable alternative can be found to real fur. Examples of this include the Busby cap worn by the members of the Royal Horse Artillery and the Shako hat worn by the Rifles Regiments.

Officials met with representatives of several potential suppliers at an Industry Day on 23 October 2008 to investigate whether the market could deliver an alternative solution to meet the Guards' requirements. Our conclusion is that industry is not currently able to produce a synthetic material with the properties required for the ceremonial cap, whose iconic design is closely associated with this nation's traditions and is recognised around the world.

However, we remain open to testing material that industry might offer us as a potential synthetic alternative.