Military Aviation Industry

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:58 pm on 15th September 2010.

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Photo of Paul Maynard Paul Maynard Conservative, Blackpool North and Cleveleys 5:58 pm, 15th September 2010

I appreciate your guidance, Madam Deputy Speaker.

I want to talk about the importance of sovereign capability in terms of our military aviation industry. Many people might regard the notion of sovereign capability as something nostalgic. At the moment, we are celebrating the 70th anniversary of the battle of Britain, and many people are saying how fortunate we were in those days to be able to generate our own aircraft, make them within our own shores and defend our shores against our enemies, and that we should continue that in the future. I would be cautious, however, about basing any arguments for sovereign capability on nostalgia, tempting as that might be, but sovereign capability matters. It is an important concept that the Government have to buy into, because we do not know what is around the corner or what the future holds. We do not know whether we can rely on those on whom we have relied in the past. The world is full of unknowns, and sovereign capability is our sole protection from them.

I therefore ask the Government to consider carefully the ways in which they can support sovereign capability, and to look beyond defining it simply in terms of whether shipyard X or aircraft factory Y remains open. With regard to military aviation, I ask the Minister to consider how the Government can use some of the things that they are already doing to protect sovereign capability, in particular through the important changes being made with the introduction of local enterprise partnerships. It is important that the Ministry of Defence speak to other Departments to consider how the newly emerging LEPs can best be allocated to strategic areas, which can then underpin particular subsections of the defence industry. A good example would be the application by Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre to have a local enterprise partnership focusing on the aeronautical supply chain, which I discussed earlier. That is one way in which Government innovation can help to support sovereign capability without having to invest just to keep things open.