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Defence Export Sales (Taiwan)

Volume 515: debated on Monday 13 September 2010

16. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on support for defence export sales to Taiwan. (14534)

Defence Ministers have had no engagement with the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills on support for defence export sales to Taiwan.

I thank the Minister for that answer. Given that a fundamental plank of our procurement policy is exportability and in light of the fact that the Secretary of State’s right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills historically has a lukewarm attitude to our aerospace industry, will the Minister make it absolutely clear that there is no official or unofficial policy on the part of this Government to oppose or block arms sales to Taiwan—a friend in that part of the world and somewhere with which British industry can do business?

First, may I confirm to my hon. Friend and to the House that the Government attach the highest priority to defence exports? The procurement decisions that the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Mid Worcestershire (Peter Luff), will be making as Minister for procurement will be based on considering exportability as a key factor. As for Taiwan, I can confirm to my hon. Friend the Member for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace) that there is, as I understand it, no reason why defence exports should not be made to Taiwan. He will understand the sensitivities involved, and that although the licensing of defence exports is primarily a matter for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, that Department nevertheless consults both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and that that is the right way to proceed. I take note of my hon. Friend’s invitation to explore another market where we might make some progress.