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Defence Manufacturing

Volume 671: debated on Monday 3 February 2020

3. What recent assessment his Department has made of the economic effect on local communities of UK defence manufacturing. (900537)

In the financial year 2018-19, expenditure across the UK was £19.2 billion, supporting around 119,000 jobs. In my hon. Friend’s region of the north- west, we spent just under £2 billion supporting around 12,500 jobs, many of which were in Barrow.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, almost one in five of my constituents works either in the delivery of the national endeavour of the nuclear deterrent or in the supply chain businesses in Barrow; the economic impact is therefore huge. The proposed marina village development in Barrow would help to ensure that money spent there serves our local economy. Will he agree to meet me and back this endeavour, and to meet my local council to support that initiative?

My hon. Friend has certainly hit the ground running. I have been in post for less than two months, and he has been here for the same time, yet this is the second time he has lobbied me on this important development. He will be pleased to know that as a consequence of his formidable advocacy for Barrow, I have already raised this matter directly with the chief executive of BAE Systems. My Department will do all it can to support his campaign, and I know my hon. Friend has also secured towns fund money from my colleagues at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

I welcome the new defence procurement Minister to his place. Several of his predecessors promised to factor in wider socioeconomic value when awarding contracts for defence manufacturing. When will the MOD actually start doing that for every contract? Given that the Department can no longer hide behind EU procurement rules, will he now award the contract for the Fleet Solid Support Ships to a UK firm?

On the Fleet Solid Support Ships, the competition has not yet been restarted. May I draw the hon. Gentleman’s attention to the Type 31, where there is a requirement that it should be built in the United Kingdom? That is a model we should be looking to emulate as much as possible.