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Ministerial Corrections

Volume 737: debated on Monday 4 September 2023

Ministerial Corrections

Monday 4 September 2023

Defence

Defence Command Paper Refresh

The following is an extract from the statement on the Defence Command Paper Refresh on 18 July 2023:

For the record, we are about to lose one of the best Defence Secretaries we have ever had. He will be sorely missed in this House, and in the Department. He knows that we have discussed what is wrong with defence procurement on many occasions, and he knows that the Public Accounts Committee and the Defence Committee have published a number of reports saying that it is broken. The most recent, entitled “It is broke—and it’s time to fix it” was published only last Sunday, and on Tuesday we see the DCP refresh, whose acquisition strategy has effectively accepted some of the 22 recommendations in our report within 48 hours. I humbly submit that that is some kind of world record for a Select Committee report.

However, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Let me, in all seriousness, encourage the Defence Secretary, when he does his handover to whoever succeeds him—accompanied by his excellent team of junior Ministers—to impress on his successor the fact that we really do need to bring about this reform, not just for industry and not just for our armed forces, but for the whole security and defence of the realm. And with that, we wish him well.

I thank my right hon. Friend for his work on the report and for his campaigning. Let me also say, however, that procurement has started to improve. In 2009-10, the average time delay on a project was 28%; it is now 15%. The average cost overrun was 15% on a project in 2009-10; it is now 4%. The direction of travel is improving. The number of civil servants at DE&S went from 24,000 to 11,000, so we are cutting away the bureaucracy and the direction of travel is improving.

[Official Report, 18 July 2023, Vol. 736, c. 792.]

Letter of correction from the then Secretary of State for Defence, the right hon. Member for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace):

An error has been identified in my response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois).

The correct response should have been:

I thank my right hon. Friend for his work on the report and for his campaigning. Let me also say, however, that procurement has started to improve. In 2009-10, the average time delay on a project was 28%; it is now 15%. The average cost overrun was 15% on a project in 2009-10; it is now 4%. The direction of travel is improving. The number of staff at DE&S went from 24,000 to 11,000, so we are cutting away the bureaucracy and the direction of travel is improving.

Business and Trade

Topical Questions

The following is an extract from Business and Trade topical questions on 29 June 2023.

Is the Secretary of State aware of just how much influence the Chinese Government and Chinese companies have on our economy? Is she aware that many times I have asked for an audit of how big that influence is? Does she share the concern of many businesses in our country that the Chinese Government are using subterfuge and espionage to further their interests?

I do not think we need an audit. China is our fourth largest export market, and we are aware of the economic challenge that it poses across the world. We work with countries across the world, but we have a pragmatic relationship with China. We need to use our influence to help them get to a better place, but I take the hon. Gentleman’s point.

[Official Report, 29 June 2023, Vol. 735, c. 420.]

Letter of correction from the Secretary of State for Business and Trade, the right hon. Member for Saffron Walden (Kemi Badenoch):

An error has been identified in my response to the hon. Member for Huddersfield (Mr Sheerman).

The correct response should have been:

I do not think we need an audit. China is our fourth largest trading partner and seventh largest export market, and we are aware of the economic challenge that it poses across the world. We work with countries across the world, but we have a pragmatic relationship with China. We need to use our influence to help them get to a better place, but I take the hon. Gentleman’s point.