§ Mr. Foulkes
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria were used in deciding on the hiring of ferries for use on Exercise Purple Warrior; what approaches were made to United Kingdom ferry operators; and what are the reasons for hiring overseas ferries for use on the exercise.
§ Mr. Ian Stewart
The choice of ferries to be hired for use in Exercise Purple Warrior was determined on the customary basis of availability, suitability and cost and, subject to these considerations, of giving preference to United Kingdom ferry operators. Approaches were made by the Government ship broker and the Government freight agency to United Kingdom and foreign ferry operators. Foreign flag ferries were hired because only two United Kingdom ferries were offered, of which one proved suitable for use. In peacetime, it is for ferry operators to make a commercial judgment on how to employ their vessels.