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Defence Procurement: SMEs

Volume 642: debated on Monday 11 June 2018

10. What progress his Department has made on encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises to participate in defence procurement programmes. (905751)

Small businesses play a crucial role in our defence capability. To support them, we have launched a supplier portal that brings together a range of information and advice for new suppliers, and we have appointed a champion for smaller businesses to drive engagement. We also now require our largest suppliers to advertise their subcontracting opportunities on Government platforms.

Anti-drone technology produced by an SME in Horsham has been used very successfully by US forces on operations for more than a year now. Will the Minister assure the House that the MOD will always go for best in class in procurement, and that this is open to smaller manufacturers, as it is with our allies?

My hon. Friend makes a really important point about the importance of SMEs in innovation and capability. Our refreshed defence industrial policy published last December highlights how we are encouraging competition within the defence sector, maximising opportunities for SMEs. For example, we have produced new short-form contracts that make it easier for SMEs to bid into MOD opportunities.

Does the Minister recognise that SMEs depend on main contractors for an enormous amount of their work, and that that is why his previous replies on the fleet support ships have been so disappointing? Can he imagine our European G7 partners, let alone President Trump, buying navy support ships from foreign yards? When is he going to shake off Treasury dogma, wake up to European reality, and buy British ships built in British shipyards by British workers, backing British engineering firms large and small, and backing British steel?

I listened very carefully to the right hon. Gentleman, but I would not think that we should take any lessons on trade policy from Donald Trump.