Defence and Security Industrial Strategy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:49 pm on 23rd March 2021.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Committee, Chair, Defence Sub-Committee, Chair, Defence Sub-Committee 12:49 pm, 23rd March 2021

It has been a busy week for defence, with the publication of the integrated review confirming Britain’s ambitions on the international stage and advancing our defence posture, and now we have today’s publication of the defence and security industrial strategy, which advances our procurement capabilities and supports UK industry. I cannot offer too much comment, however, because the Minister, unlike his boss, has chosen to introduce this to Parliament first rather than giving us teasers in the media over the last couple of weeks, but on the face of it he is to be congratulated because we are seeing an advancement of the UK industrial base and support for British exports. Indeed, he has done such a good job and is doing such fantastic work as Minister for Defence Procurement that I am now worried that he might be rotated and moved on. I hope he will have time to appear before the Defence Committee, however, to talk in detail about this important work.

I have one question on international collaboration. The Minister talked about Tempest. That is a joint effort, but in NATO there is another project of equal complexity run by the French, FCAS. Is it not time that we recognised that these two efforts should be merged, because experience with the F-35 indicates that once we pay for these things there is not the total amount of funds available to buy the full complement? We have gone down from 138 to 48 today.