Together with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence, I had planned to announce to the House today an intention to proceed with negotiations with the preferred bidder for the planned procurement of search and rescue helicopter capability. However, the preferred bidder has informed the Ministry of Defence within the last 48 hours that it has become aware of a possible issue in connection with its bid to provide the UK search and rescue capability, which was the basis of its selection as the preferred bidder as announced in February 2010.
In the circumstances it is not appropriate for us to proceed with the planned announcement until the status of this issue has been clarified.
My right hon. Friend and I will make a further statement to the House as soon as we are able to provide further information and to set out our plans for proceeding to secure the provision of search and rescue helicopter capability in the future. We regret the further uncertainty that this entails for all those involved in providing the UK’s search and rescue service.