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Airbus A400M

Volume 515: debated on Wednesday 8 September 2010

3. What discussions she has had with the Secretary of State for Defence on the A400M military transport aircraft and Airbus in Wales. (13134)

I have already held discussions with my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary on a number of military issues that affect Wales, and I have arranged to speak to him again during this two-week sitting of Parliament. I also wrote to him specifically on that issue in July, highlighting the importance of Airbus to the Welsh economy.

During the election, a number of Tory candidates in north Wales published leaflets that contained a pledge from the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now the Prime Minister, that that project would go ahead. Is that pledge still valid? Is it worth anything?

I know that the hon. Gentleman takes a great interest in such matters, and so he should, because Airbus employs, I believe, more than 6,500 people at the Broughton plant in his constituency. The order book for the A400M currently looks very healthy, with orders for more than 180 aircraft worldwide and at least 22 for the UK. I am confident that the position is secure.

The Secretary of State is right to concentrate on the importance of military activity and training in Wales. Will she therefore ensure that when she next meets the Defence Secretary, she stands up for the RAF in Wales, and bases such as RAF Valley, which has had substantial investment in the past 10 years? They serve the economy locally, but they will also serve our country well in future.

The hon. Gentleman should know that I have deep affection for RAF Valley, having done my armed services parliamentary fellowship scheme with the RAF. I was even privileged to sit in the back seat of several fast jets, courtesy of some first-class pilots. The RAF has a special place in my heart, and I can certainly assure him that I will always speak up loudly for RAF Valley.