Jim Murphy MP, Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary commenting on reports that the process to provide search and rescue helicopters has been halted, said:
“We respect the announcement that the Government is cancelling the proposed deal. The Labour Shadow Defence team has been calling for clarity for several months. It is important Ministers now take this opportunity for a rethink and consider all options.
“People will want open discussion about more cost effective alternatives in light of the changed fiscal environment and cuts made to our Armed Forces and defence equipment in the Defence Review. In particular, we must discuss how best to deliver this capability in future by harnessing new innovation, as well as whether upgrading the Sea Kings is an option and at what cost. We hope the Government will be open about the details of alternative bids they have received.
“If they are to proceed with an alternative consortium, people will want to know the impact on UK bases, the role of the military and whether this has an impact on other emergency services.
“It is vital that industry is properly consulted as a way forward is established, since maintaining industrial capabilities in the UK should be a Government priority.
“We would like to be informed, as appropriate, about the issue behind the cancellation and how they will be prevented from occurring in future.”