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Defence Procurement

Volume 559: debated on Monday 25 February 2013

Reforming defence acquisition and support so that it provides the right equipment to our armed forces at the right time, while driving better value for money from the budget, is a key element of the defence transformation programme currently under way. This is one of my top priorities, which will reverse more than a decade of mismanagement by the Labour Government. Through the materiel strategy work, we have concluded that only significant reform will solve the problems that have for years beset defence procurement. We expect to make decisions on the next steps of that work soon.

Does the Minister agree that the need to ensure that the UK defence industry has encouragement and a sense of continuity is also important to the small and medium-sized businesses that supply the defence industries? What steps is he taking to ensure that they can play a major part?

In 2012, 40% of new contracts placed by the MOD were with small and medium-sized enterprises; they are at the heart of the innovation within the supply chain for defence contractors. My hon. Friend may be interested to know that next week I will be addressing an NDI conference in Manchester on the very subject of encouraging SMEs into the defence supply chain.

Please can the Minister tell me what knowledge he and his Department have of weapons procurement by the Syrian opposition funded by the Saudis and supported by the Americans?