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Defence Exports

Volume 567: debated on Monday 2 September 2013

This Government are working tirelessly to support economic growth, and responsible defence exports make an important contribution to that. From the Prime Minister and Ministers across other Departments to service chiefs and Ministers in the Department—indeed, I was in Korea and Japan during the recess—all are engaged in supporting our allies in looking at acquiring top-quality British military equipment.

I thank the Minister for that answer. My constituency has a number of defence and aerospace contractors, so will he join me in welcoming the 62% growth achieved last year in defence exports and tell the House what support he has received from other Departments to ensure that that growth continues?

Of course I join my hon. Friend in welcoming the 62% increase in defence and security exports in 2012, which is up to £8.8 billion, and in a global market that grew by only 45%, so we are increasing our market share. As I indicated earlier, we have had support from other Government Departments. The Home Office, in relation to security, the Cabinet Office and No. 10, through the Prime Minister, are engaged. I point out to my hon. Friend and to the whole House that next week the defence and security international exhibition, which is expected to be the largest of its type in Europe this year, will take place in the O2 Centre here in London, showcasing to over 30,000 visitors and 100 foreign delegations the best of British on offer.

Notwithstanding the growth of the industry, does the Minister accept that the recent debacle over parts of chemical weapons being sent to Syria shows that this Government still have not learned the lessons from Matrix Churchill and must be much more joined up between the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the MOD?

I think that the hon. Gentleman misunderstands the nature of the export application that was declined for Syria recently, as described by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. We have a very clear policy for export controls that is supervised by BIS. I should have referred earlier to BIS’s excellent work in responsible defence exports through the UK Trade & Investment Defence & Security Organisation.