Skip to main content

Defence Sector Investment

Volume 740: debated on Tuesday 14 November 2023

8. What steps his Department is taking to help mitigate the potential impact of environmental, social and governance practices of financial institutions on levels of investment in the defence sector. (900042)

The Secretary of State for Defence and my predecessor, my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Andrew Griffith), recently set out that the values within ESG practices of financial institutions should never undermine capabilities developed to help us preserve peace and security. The Treasury recently consulted on a potential regulatory framework for ESG ratings providers, which aims to improve transparency and promote good conduct. I hope this will address some of the issues that defence companies have raised.

ESG is so vital when it comes to investing in all our services, including defence. We were promised that the “Greening Finance” road map would come out at the end of 2022. Then we were told that the consultation would come out by autumn this year. It is still just about autumn, and it is yet to come out. Why are the Government kicking ESG down the road? Why have they stopped caring about ESG, and when will we have the consultation to get a UK green taxonomy sorted?

I thank my hon. Friend for his question. [Interruption.] I do; I know how much he cares about these issues and campaigns on them frequently in the House, and I commend him for it. The Government are committed to delivering on a UK green taxonomy to provide investors with clarity on which economic activity should be labelled as green. We expect to consult this autumn. The green taxonomy will provide an important tool for enabling the supply of relevant and reliable sustainability information for the market, and information will come in due course.

One of the things that concern Northern Ireland MPs is the fact that when it comes to defence jobs and getting contracts, Northern Ireland falls behind. The Minister will be aware that Thales, on the border of my constituency, was recently able to secure its workforce. What steps can he take to ensure that each region of the United Kingdom, but especially Northern Ireland, can benefit from defence spending for the workforce? We can do the job the same as everywhere else; we just need the opportunity.

I thank the hon. Member for his question, which is incredibly important. As he knows, this Government are absolutely committed to ensuring that jobs in the defence sector, within an ESG framework, are protected. I am happy to meet him to discuss further the issues relating to his constituency and Northern Ireland.