§ Mr. Kidney
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the contribution his Department makes to the West Midlands economy. 
§ Mr. Caplin
Publication of this information in the annual Defence Statistics report was suspended in 2002 because of concerns about its quality. Work is in place to improve the quality of these statistics with a view to their inclusion in the future.
Defence makes an important contribution to the West Midlands economy through the presence of service and civilian personnel in their local communities, and through expenditure with companies based in the West Midlands and payments by the Department to local authorities. The Department's Dc fence Bills Agency database records that in 2002–03 the Ministry of Defence spent some £300 million of equipment and non-equipment expenditure to firms based in the West Midlands.
The Department also conducts regional impact assessments to inform decisions affecting Defence estate and personnel.