BAE Systems

Part of Backbench Business — [Un-allotted Day] – in the House of Commons at 12:50 pm on 24th November 2011.

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Photo of Alan Johnson Alan Johnson Labour, Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle 12:50 pm, 24th November 2011

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. That is precisely the point. We can compare those two British companies. Around 96% of GlaxoSmithKline’s sales are abroad, but it is making a decision as a British company to invest in Britain and open manufacturing plants at a difficult time, and it is of course helped by the patent box that was agreed by the Labour and Conservative parties. It is an example that BAE should follow.

As thousands of highly skilled BAE employees contemplate a miserable Christmas, it is time for the company to engage properly with its work force in order to ensure that their important skills are retained in aerospace manufacturing and that aerospace manufacturing is retained on the Humber. We are 58 days into the statutory 90-day process, but there is no sign whatsoever that BAE is doing anything other than going through the motions. Indeed, the site director at Brough told my hon. Friend Diana Johnson only last week that nothing would change during this consultation process. He told her that they were going though the motions. When the 90 days end on Boxing day, it will still be 27 September as far as BAE’s plans are concerned.

The unions are working hard to hold the company to its statutory obligations. The union representatives involved are very good and need no advice from me, but if I was a union rep involved in the case, I would seriously consider seeking a protective order against BAE for its lack of engagement.

We believe that BAE’s three manufacturing sites should be retained. The company should stand by its loyal work force in difficult times, so that when the good times return it has sufficient manufacturing capacity in this country to deal with the extra work.

All the signs are that military aerospace will expand dramatically from about 2016. At the very least, BAE should adopt the intelligent proposals put forward by its own executive group at Brough in order to mitigate the significant risk inherent in the company’s plans by retaining crucial assembly and sub-assembly at Brough for the duration of the next Hawk acquisition contract, thereby saving about one third of the jobs until 2016.