Second Day's Debate

Part of Orders of the Day — Defence – in the House of Commons at 5:16 pm on 1st July 1986.

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Photo of Mr John Lee Mr John Lee , Pendle 5:16 pm, 1st July 1986

We are taking all factors into account in considering the future of tank orders. At this time I have no more to say about that subject. It is my intention that the planned economies and the improved efficiency offered by the move from Leeds to Glasgow shall become priority targets for the Leeds staff.

Hon. Members may be forgiven for overlooking the small box on page 51 of the "Statement on the Defence Estimates" on energy efficiency. However, the Select Committee on Defence published a memorandum on this subject in its recent report, and I am grateful for this.

The MOD is playing a full part in the Department of Energy's campaign this year. The MOD is a major user and its non-operational energy bill runs at over £240 million a year. It is clearly sensible for the MOD to make the most of potential savings. We have already reduced our consumption by 30 per cent. since the oil crisis of the early 1970s, and, to give further impetus to improvements on energy efficiency, I have recently set up a steering group of senior officers to oversee implementation of an energy efficiency programme with a target of a further 25 per cent. reduction in the MOD's energy bill over the next five years.

I should like to say a few words about MOD support for defence exports. This is understandably an area where commercial confidentiality and the secrecy requirements of customers limit what can be said, but, as I said earlier, defence exports sustain 120,000 jobs in the United Kingdom and this figure is set to rise following the increase of 17 per cent. in real terms in sales last year to £2·9 billion. This is around 9 per cent. of the world market. I pay tribute to the work of our defence export services organisation and to our defence attaches overseas for assisting British industry to this achievement. These figures do not include the outstanding Saudi aerospace deal concluded last year.

I am sure that the House will welcome today's announcement that the Australian army has selected Land Rover to fulfil a £50 million order for a 2,900-vehicle requirement. That order was won in the face of stiff international competition.