Defence Helicopters: Domestic Manufacture

Defence – in the House of Commons on 21st September 2020.

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Photo of Chris Loder Chris Loder Conservative, West Dorset

What steps he is taking to support the domestic manufacture of defence helicopters.

Photo of Jeremy Quin Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

The Department is committed to supporting UK helicopters and the defence industry more broadly. Over the next decade, we plan to spend over £180 billion on equipment and equipment support, which currently includes around £10.9 billion on helicopter capability.

Photo of Chris Loder Chris Loder Conservative, West Dorset

Many of my constituents in West Dorset work for Leonardo Helicopters in Yeovil, where redundancies have recently been announced. That is of great concern to me, my constituents and those of my hon. Friend Mr Fysh. What is the Minister doing to support the company?

Photo of Jeremy Quin Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

I share my hon. Friend’s concern. I am pleased to reassure him that those redundancies do not relate to any changes of plan on Ministry of Defence work, but rather to a decision taken by the company to ensure that it remains on a financially strong footing. We continue to work actively with Leonardo on its excellent Merlin and Wildcat helicopters, and I am pleased to support its export drives, including earlier this month in person, in Poland.

Photo of Khalid Mahmood Khalid Mahmood Shadow Minister (Defence)

Will the Minister ask the Secretary of State to step up to the plate and match the commitment made by the shadow Secretary of State, my right hon. Friend John Healey, to procure “built in Britain”, hence ensuring that there are no redundancies in West Dorset, and to support the awarding of the £1.5 billion fleet solid support vessels contract to a British consortium, to recruit and retain 2,500 UK jobs, and to do so for the many other shovel-ready defence projects, to support British industry, British workers and the British economy to lead us through this covid recession?

Photo of Jeremy Quin Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence

We are proud to support many British companies and the entire UK defence sector. Something like £19.2 billion was given to UK companies in 2018-19 to deliver on our defence needs. This has been brought out through our defence and security industrial strategy—DSIS—of which I look forward to sharing more details with the House when it is delivered later this year.