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Eurofighter Typhoon

Volume 533: debated on Monday 10 October 2011

Typhoon has already been exported to Saudi Arabia and Austria, where it is in operational service. It is also competing in a number of other important markets. Oman has announced its intention to buy Typhoon, and India has selected it for the final phase of its medium multi-role combat aircraft competition. It is also competing in a number of other countries, including Japan, Malaysia and Qatar.

I confidently expect an increase in interest in Typhoon, following its highly successful air defence and ground attack roles over Libya, in which it has consistently demonstrated exceptional levels of reliability, performance, accuracy, and overall cost-effectiveness over and above our very high expectations.

I thank my hon. Friend for his answer. Does he agree that Typhoon’s success is down to UK leadership in the design and manufacture of world-class aircraft and that Government support is needed, not just to maximise export potential but to defend this vital national interest?

On the question of supporting exports, I know the close interest that my hon. Friend takes in Japan, particularly through her role in the UK-Japan 21st century group. I am happy to reassure her of the close interest that I personally have taken in the export campaign to Japan, which I visited in April, where I discussed Typhoon with many Japanese interlocutors. I am hopeful of a successful outcome. She is absolutely right, too, to emphasise the importance of the underlying design skills and technology—for example, our strong support for Europe’s first second-generation active electronically scanned radar will be key to our success in these export campaigns.

Ministers talk rather too often about buying off the peg from our international partners, including the USA which, we understand, is struggling at the moment, too. Should Ministers not seek to enhance sales, encourage value for money from British companies and ensure that we retain jobs and skills in the UK? Perhaps the Minister can tell the House whether, given the fall in international demand for top-quality British goods such as the Typhoon and subsequent job losses, he intends to ensure that such phrases are not used in future and that orders go to the UK first.

I welcome the hon. Lady to her new position and, as it is her first outing, I will be relatively kind in my response to her. [Interruption.] I have to say that I have read with considerable interest her party’s defence review procurement document, which advocates a similar policy in relation to off-the-shelf and modified off-the-shelf, so she should read what her own party is suggesting before criticising us. As for her comment that demand for Typhoon is falling, it is true that the four partner nations are stretching out production, but demand is rising fast around the globe, and I am confident that Ministers have a strong commitment to their export diaries, which will lead—

Order. We need to move on; I am grateful to the Minister. [Interruption.] Order. The Minister’s answers are simply too long—we need to make progress.

I am grateful for the efforts that the Defence Secretary and his team have made to try to export Typhoon and secure jobs for my constituents in Lancashire at Samlesbury and Warton. However, should the British Government be successful in helping to win those orders abroad, what guarantees can we try to secure from BAE that this is good news for work in Lancashire, and not just good news for BAE shareholders?

I think that it is guaranteed that it will be good news for Lancashire. Of course, the precise composition of the bids is a matter for the company, but I think that it understands the importance of protecting its design skills in my hon. Friend’s constituency, for which he speaks up vigorously and effectively in the House.