Written Ministerial Statements
Tuesday 25 October 2011
Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme
As the previous Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for North Somerset (Dr Fox), announced to the House on 18 July 2011, Official Report, columns 643-645, we are proceeding with a number of high-priority equipment projects vital to Future Force 2020 as set out in the strategic defence and security review.
I am pleased to announce today the successful outcome of the Warrior capability sustainment programme competition. Subject to final contractual negotiations we intend to award a contract to Lockheed Martin UK for the demonstration and subsequent manufacture of the upgraded Warrior vehicles with a potential value of £1 billion.
The Warrior infantry fighting vehicle has been in service with the British Army since 1989 and has been deployed extensively and with distinction in theatres including Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The Warrior capability sustainment programme will provide a major upgrade to the vehicles and extend their service life to beyond 2040. The programme includes an improved turret and a new stabilised 40 mm cannon, an enhanced electronic architecture to cope with the demands of modern communications and vehicle systems, and the provision of a common armour mounting system to allow interoperability with current and future protection technology.
The upgraded Warrior platforms will be key components within the new multi-role brigade structure, and will provide armoured infantry battalions with battle-winning capability for the future. The turret and cannon will enable the ability to fire on the move and represent a step change in lethality ensuring that our armed forces are able to counter the threats of the future. Warrior gives the Army the mobility, firepower, and protection to deliver infantry into battle and on to an enemy objective while under fire. The comprehensive upgrades will ensure that Warrior will continue to play an essential role in the conduct of land operations—whether within a coalition or nationally.
The upgrade programme delivers a cost-effective, timely, and efficient commercial solution for this essential Army capability.
The award of this contract to Lockheed Martin UK will create and sustain approximately 600 British jobs within the company and its supply chain, representing 90% of UK content, as the programme moves through the demonstration and manufacture phases. This will ensure the sustainment of UK jobs, UK skills, and UK capabilities within the armoured vehicle sector.
Foreign and Commonwealth Office
London Conference on Cyberspace
I would like to inform the House that I will be hosting the London conference on cyberspace at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre from 1-2 November 2011 in association with the International Chamber of Commerce, the Royal Institute for International Affairs and Wilton Park.
The rapid development of the world wide web, from 16 million users in 1995 to nearly 2 billion today, has created economic and social opportunities unforeseen less than two decades ago.
At the Munich security conference in February, I proposed that the UK host an international conference, to bring together the major actors in cyberspace and to launch an inclusive dialogue on how, collectively, we should respond to the challenges and opportunities which the development of cyberspace presents. The purpose of this conference is to discuss ideas and expected behaviour in cyberspace. This will form the basis of the “London Agenda” which will help shape future international and national discussions on cyberspace. A number of countries have agreed to host a follow-on conference within 12-18 months of the London conference.
I proposed seven principles as a framework for discussions:
(1) The need for Governments to act proportionately in cyberspace and in accordance with national and international law;
(2) The need for everyone to have the ability—in terms of skills, technology, confidence and opportunity—to access cyberspace;
(3) The need for users of cyberspace to show tolerance and respect for diversity of language, culture and ideas;
(4) Ensuring that cyberspace remains open to innovation and the free flow of ideas, information and expression;
(5) The need to respect individual rights of privacy and to provide proper protection to intellectual property;
(6) The need for us all to work collectively to tackle the threat from criminals acting online;
(7) The promotion of a competitive environment which ensures a fair return on investment in network, services and content.
Over 60 countries will be represented at the conference at senior ministerial level with heads of industry, international organisations including the UN, World Bank and EU, academic and civil society organisations.
The conference will support the UK’s commercial objectives by helping to establish UK industry as a leader in cyberspace. Thirty UK companies will exhibit at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.
The conference will be live-streamed and the wider online community will be able to participate directly, feeding in their views through social media networks. A series of interactive events around the conference led by business, youth groups and civil society, will demonstrate at first hand the power of the internet to connect people.
Further details are available at link: www.fco.gov.uk/londoncyber. A programme, including participants, will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.
Air Travel Organisers' Licensing Scheme Reform
I am today announcing a change to the planned implementation date for the proposed reforms to the air travel organisers’ licensing (ATOL) scheme.
The ATOL reform consultation, which took place between 23 June and 15 September 2011, proposed that the new regulations for bringing flight-plus holidays into ATOL would come into force on 1 January 2012.
Over 80 responses to the consultation were received. The final details of the ATOL reforms are being decided in light of these responses. However the overwhelming view from the travel industry has been that implementation on 1 January 2012 would provide insufficient time for businesses to make the necessary preparations to comply with the new requirements. This is partly due to the time needed to update IT systems and put in place the processes required to enable businesses to identify when a flight-plus holiday has been formed.
In recognition of these concerns, and to ensure that the new regulations are implemented fully, consistently and in a way that minimises the scope for error and subsequent confusion among passengers, I have decided that the new regulations will not now come into force on 1 January. Instead I intend to implement the reforms in April 2012 in order to give the industry enough time to respond to these new consumer protection requirements.
I expect to make a further announcement before the end of the year about decisions on the other ATOL reform issues in the consultation.