Select Committee on Public Accounts Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 199)

WEDNESDAY 8 MARCH 2000

MR KEVIN TEBBIT, SIR ROBERT WALMSLEY, VICE ADMIRAL SIR JEREMY BLACKHAM AND MR JOHN OUGHTON

  180. I would also ask why in the case against Textron-Lycoming it was stated that this was flight safety critical.
  (Mr Tebbit) I am not sure about the case. I do not think it was a case but certainly in conditions where people are seeking to secure better performance from a third party they are likely to press their case as strongly as they possibly can.

  181. I cannot believe that what you are telling me is that the MoD made a false court statement.
  (Mr Tebbit) I certainly was not saying that.

  182. I would ask you to provide a note to the Committee about the court documents that were put forward in that case[23]. Sir Jeremy, EDS-SCICON stated that there should be no category one anomalies in safety critical software. Do you know how many EDS-SCICON discovered?

  (Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham) No, I do not.

  183. Would you accept from me they discovered 56 category one anomalies?
  (Mr Tebbit) I should intervene—

  184. I have asked Sir Jeremy to answer this.
  (Mr Tebbit) I do not think it is for Sir Jeremy to answer this.

  Chairman: Mr Tebbit?

Mr Gardiner

  185. Mr Tebbit? If you could adopt the same strictures that I asked Sir Jeremy.
  (Mr Tebbit) This is not a court of law. I think it is reasonable for me to answer properly rather than with yes or no answers which does make it rather difficult. I tried to explain earlier that the techniques used by EDS-SCICON were not appropriate.

  186. I will come to that in a minute. I asked you a specific question: do you accept they discovered 56 category one anomalies? It is very simple; you can either say, yes, you do accept it or, no, you do not.
  (Mr Tebbit) It is not as simple as that because you preceded it by the word "safety" which immediately raises issues.

  187. In this question I have not and under the previous question Sir Jeremy did not accept—
  (Mr Tebbit) Under their terms.

  188.—That it was flight safety critical.
  (Mr Tebbit) In the terms you have just asked the last question that is what they said but there was a different context in which you posed the question earlier.

  189. Do you accept that EDS-SCICON discovered 56 category one anomalies?
  (Mr Tebbit) Under their definition they may well have done but it was of no particular significance.

  190. Earlier you said Boscombe Down did not say FADEC was unsafe but that was it was "unverifiable" because they could not read it.
  (Mr Tebbit) Yes, correct. I do not know about "read it", but that is correct.

  191. Yes is good enough. The MoD put this line to the Defence Select Committee. Would you accept that in fact Boscombe Down were able to read the software and that they stated that it was "unacceptable"?
  (Mr Tebbit) I do not know what you mean about being able to read it. They certainly looked at it using a particular methodology.

  192. Did they state that it was unacceptable?
  (Mr Tebbit) I have no idea whether they used that word.

  193. In that case could you check the documentation and provide a note to the Committee[24]?

  (Mr Tebbit) I think this is becoming rather difficult to answer because you are putting questions to me in an inquisitorial sense and I have described what happened already. I think I have described it very fully already, Mr Chairman.

Chairman

  194. It is up to Mr Gardiner what questions he asks. He has been in order so far on that.
  (Mr Tebbit) I am happy to provide you again in writing, as all previous enquiries have been provided in writing, with statements made by this company. I do not think you will find them different from the previous information you have received.

Mr Gardiner

  195. If you could provide a specific note on whether they used the word "unacceptable" about the system[25]. The Defence Select Committee was also told originally that the software was not safety critical. Is that correct?

  (Mr Tebbit) The Defence Select Committee evidence given by whom. I am not sure about this.

  196. That was the MoD's evidence to the Defence Select Committee that it was not safety critical which you have just given the same evidence to this Committee. I trust you have no objection to that.
  (Mr Tebbit) No.

  197. In its legal case against FADEC's suppliers, Textron-Lycoming, do you agree that the MoD stated that "FADEC was truly critical in maintaining safe flight".
  (Mr Tebbit) I do not know anything about the legal case.

  198. In that case, Mr Tebbit, could you provide us with a written note as to whether the quotation which I have just given "FADEC was truly critical in maintaining safe flight" formed part of the case against Textron-Lycoming[26]. The MoD subsequently advised the Defence Select Committee that that was the case.

  (Mr Tebbit) It was an arbitration case I am advised. Sorry?

  199. My understanding is that the MoD subsequently advised the Defence Select Committee of what I have just said. In their case against Textron-Lycoming they had made statement that "FADEC was truly critical in maintaining safe flight". Was that advice subsequently given although not originally given to the Defence Select Committee?

  (Mr Tebbit) You are asking me to provide details here of what was said to a different Committee. I have not got with me all of that information.


23   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1. Back

24   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1, page 38. Back

25   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1, pages 37-38. Back

26   Note: See Evidence, Appendix 1, pages 37-38. Back


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 30 November 2000