Skip to main content

Defence Exports

Volume 671: debated on Monday 3 February 2020

9. What recent steps he has taken with the Secretary of State for International Trade to support UK defence manufacturing by promoting defence exports. (900544)

On behalf of the Prime Minister, I chair the defence, security and exports working group, which is attended by the International Trade Secretary. Ministers from Defence and International Trade support regular overseas trade missions and attend a wide range of international exhibitions, most notably last year’s Defence and Security Equipment International, where we jointly hosted 58 international delegations, demonstrating the best of British defence exports.

The Secretary of State will know how much of our defence equipment pipeline is coming from the US. He will also know how much our excellent UK defence industry sells into the US. Will he make sure that, as we start the US-UK free trade agreement discussions, the defence sector is one of the sectors that is prioritised?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The US defence market is incredibly important for both the United States and the United Kingdom. Some of my honourable colleagues in this House and I lobbied for the original UK-US defence tech trade treaty in 2006. I can see the right hon. Members for North Durham (Mr Jones) and for Warley (John Spellar) sitting on the back row of the Labour Benches—we went together. We believe that it is so important. The reality is that, yes, we have more work to do. These trade deals will be incredibly important to make sure that we secure British jobs in order to sell aerospace and partner in aerospace across both countries.

Can the Secretary of State indicate when his Government plan to introduce the excellent recommendations in the report by the right hon. Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne)?

A number of those recommendations have already been implemented. I will meet, and regularly do meet, my right hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Philip Dunne) to discuss the matter. It is incredibly important that we make sure not only that we link prosperity to our defence industry through the products that we commission for our services, but that, overseas, we secure prosperity for our jobs.

The Secretary of State and his team are doing valuable work looking at defence manufacturing for the UK and externally. Will he reassure me that radar is part of that? As I am sure that he remembers, radar was built in the Isle of Wight for the Royal Navy ships.

It will not surprise you to know, Mr Speaker, that Britain builds pretty much the best of everything in the world when it comes to aerospace. As a former aerospace worker, and a Member of Parliament who represents a good few thousand aerospace workers, I know at first hand how much the international community needs and wants our products. The trick is to make sure that we sell them, and the best way to sell them is for us to buy British and show that the best armed forces in the world use British kit.

If the Minister really wants to see the best of what Britain can do in manufacturing, a long-term partner in defence procurement and in making the turbines and gears for the armed services is David Brown Gears in Huddersfield. Will he visit that company? It is a brilliant company. It manufactures for our armed services and it exports. May I invite him to visit to see how excellent it is?