The petition of residents of Kingston upon Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire,
Declares that residents believe that skilled defence manufacturing jobs at BAE Systems in Brough are of vital strategic importance for the defence and security of the United Kingdom.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to take action to save 400 jobs that are under threat at Brough, including ordering new Hawk aircrafts for the Red Arrows to replace the current fleet that was made in the 1970s.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Diana Johnson , Official Report, 21 November 2017; Vol. 631, c. 1015.]
Observations from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Guto Bebb):
BAE Systems has taken the decision to transform its business to increase its competitiveness and ensure that it is as efficient as possible. While this is a matter for the company, the Government appreciate that it is a worrying time for the 400 employees at Brough who are potentially affected, as well as their families and the local community. BAE Systems is still in consultation on the proposed changes and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) continues to work closely with the company to understand the impact of the potential reductions. The Department for Work and Pensions is also standing by to offer support for those affected.
More broadly, the Government recognise the importance of highly skilled defence manufacturing jobs to UK prosperity. The recently refreshed Defence Industrial Policy makes clear our commitment to fostering an internationally competitive, innovative and secure UK defence sector. As part of this work, we worked with suppliers of all sizes and across all sectors, including BAE Systems, to understand how we can support growth and competitiveness, as well as meet our national security objectives. This is a continuing process of engagement. Our policy also recognises that the combat air sector, which includes those employed in Brough, makes a strategically important contribution to securing our military operational advantage and freedom of action, including the development of high-end technologies. The sector also generates significant revenues and international influence through exports.
We are committed, therefore, to keeping the UK a leading aerospace nation and we are already working with industry on our long-term requirements, for example on the Future Combat Air System Technology Initiative. Through this programme, we are working in partnership with the UK defence industry and our closest allies to develop key technologies while also sustaining the UK industrial base.
In the nearer term, the recent £6 billion agreement with Qatar for 24 Typhoon aircraft, which is the biggest order for the aircraft in a decade, is another significant boost for BAE Systems. This agreement also included a clear intention to proceed with the purchase of Hawk aircraft. We recognise that this is an increasingly competitive and demanding international market, but we believe that Typhoon and Hawk are world- leading products. We continue to work closely with BAE Systems in pursuit of continued export success for both aircraft, looking to build on previous international success.
The Red Arrows currently have aircraft available from a pool of around 75 Hawk T1 which are due to remain in service until 2030. It does not make sense to replace them before then and any premature purchase would obviously come at the expense of equipment which our Armed Forces actually need. Any decision about replacements is therefore unlikely to be taken until the end of this Parliament.
It is also worth noting that, in the wider region, the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership has previously been awarded £141.5 million from this Government to promote local growth and deliver new jobs across the Humber. This includes £12 million to provide grant funding to small and medium-sized enterprises in order to stimulate growth, investment and job creation.
The Humber has the largest Enterprise Zone in the country, which is focused on developing the Humber as the centre for offshore renewable energy and to support advanced manufacturing and port-related logistics sites. The Enterprise Zone sites include Brough, and 18 companies have located to the site (known locally as Humber Enterprise Park) creating at least 101 jobs to date. These actions have attracted major investments in the Humber area, including Siemens Gamesa which has created around 1,000 jobs at Green Port Hull, with a £310 million investment to create an offshore wind blade manufacturing factory and assembly plant. Also, Reckitt Benckiser, is developing a £105 million centre for scientific excellence in Hull with the support of this Government.