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Defence Manufacturing

Volume 671: debated on Monday 3 February 2020

11. What steps his Department is taking to maintain the capabilities of UK defence manufacturing. (900546)

17. What steps his Department is taking to maintain the capabilities of UK defence manufacturing. [R] (900552)

The MOD is committed to supporting the UK defence manufacturing industry. Since 2015, we have published a national shipbuilding strategy, launched the combat air strategy and refreshed our defence industrial policy. Through the defence prosperity programme, we are working to sustain and develop an internationally competitive and productive UK defence sector.

The help that the Government give to our indigenous exporting firms is of huge value. I thank the Minister for the Department’s help with exports of the Leonardo AW159 Wildcat helicopter, and I note that the Republic of Korea has an opportunity to increase its world-leading Wildcat capability, built in Yeovil, to give its people maximum protection and forge an increasingly significant and dynamic relationship with the United Kingdom.

The Wildcat, designed and built in my hon. Friend’s constituency, and with the sweat of my own constituents, has been tried and tested on operations with the Royal Navy. The Government will continue to do all that we can to support the export of Wildcat to South Korea, including making a Royal Navy Wildcat available for it to test and evaluate in the coming months.

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The combat air strategy has led to Team Tempest, a world-leading programme providing not only fast jet capability to replace the Typhoon for the Royal Air Force, but real STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—inspiration by employing 1,000 people directly. Can the Minister assure me that its position will be secure in the upcoming defence review?

The Government will undertake the deepest review of Britain’s security, defence and foreign policy since the cold war. The terms of reference will be announced in due course, but the UK combat air strategy that was published in July 2018 will be used to inform the review.

It is mostly French and Swedish steel that has been used to build our ships recently. Does the Minister agree that it is time to factor in the economic value of awarding defence contracts to UK steel suppliers when making procurement decisions in the future?

I have already had the opportunity to visit Barrow, which is a shipyard full of British boats. I understand that the order books on the Clyde and at Rosyth are similarly full.

Talking about the order book for the Clyde, will the Minister give us an assurance that there will be a continuous drumbeat and no delays for future Type 26 frigates that are ordered?

The commitment to building Type 26 frigates is absolute. In fact, defence spending in Scotland secures 10,200 jobs; that is the Royal Navy supporting 10,200 jobs in Scotland.