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Nato (Equipment Standardisation)

Volume 932: debated on Tuesday 24 May 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence what effect on employment in the United Kingdom the expansion of standardisation of defence equipment by NATO is expected to have and if he will make a statement.

I regret that I cannot give a general forecast of the sort requested by my hon. Friend, but the United Kingdom, as a country with a major capability for defence production. is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that increased standardisation within NATO should provide.

Is the Minister aware that there is a danger of a movement of defence jobs out of this country and into the European States particularly France, because of standardisation of equipment? Will the Government be taking effective steps to compensate the United Kingdom for any lost jobs that may occur as a result of standardisation?

I shall certainly be happy to look at any evidence that my hon. Friend may put before me, but I can also cite to the House such successful examples of co-operation as the Anglo-French co-operation over helicopters, and that will continue in the future.

Has not the main adverse effect on employment in the United Kingdom in connection with defence been caused by the defence cuts? What is the Government's latest estimate of the number of jobs and job opportunities that will have been lost by the time that these cuts have taken effect?

I have already answered the hon. Gentleman's question on that matter and I have nothing further to add.