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House of Commons Hansard
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27 February 2019
Volume 655
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9. What discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the potential effect of F-35 contracts on (a) industry in and (b) exports from Wales. [909431]

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Again there is no stronger voice for Wales than that of my right hon. Friend, who has a long-standing interest in Wales. Yesterday I met the Minister with responsibility for defence procurement, my hon. Friend the Member for Pudsey (Stuart Andrew) to discuss the F-35 contract. The recent announcement puts Wales right at the centre of the global F-35 partnership. It is the largest defence programme in history.

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It was a great pleasure to visit the F-35 factory in Fort Worth in the summer of 2016, and of course the F-35 has a huge UK content to it, so does my hon. Friend agree that these contracts show the immense contribution being made by the Welsh defence industry to the UK economy and exports overall?

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The aerospace and defence industries are in very good health in Wales. In financial year 2017-18, the UK Government spent £960 million with the Welsh defence industry and commerce; that is up from £946 million. This supports an estimated 6,300 jobs in Wales and the half a billion pound F-35 contract is to be welcomed right across this House.

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Will the Minister meet with aerospace businesses such as Tritech, Magellan and Solvay in Wrexham to ensure that in the event of a no-deal Brexit we maximise spend within the UK to benefit our businesses?

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I certainly would agree to meet with the aerospace industry. I have already visited a number of companies. I am also committed to holding a roundtable on this very subject and I am more than happy to meet with the hon. Gentleman as well to discuss this further.

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12. Given the huge challenges that the steel industry and car manufacturers face in Wales, as well as in the rest of the UK, even at this late stage, would it not be better if the Secretary of State and the rest of the Government committed Britain to staying in the customs union? [909434]

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The hon. Gentleman raises this issue on the European Union. He voted against the Prime Minister’s deal. That makes no deal far more likely. The only way to secure a smooth, orderly exit from the European Union is to support the Prime Minister’s deal when the meaningful vote comes back to this House.

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Since the hon. Member for Ceredigion (Ben Lake) is conscious that he has a question on the Order Paper, he can have it.