Defence Spending in Scotland — [Joan Ryan in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:00 pm on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of Chris Stephens Chris Stephens Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Fair Work and Employment) 4:00 pm, 6th February 2019

I am more than happy to support the hon. Lady’s constituents and the Royal Marines in Angus and elsewhere. As she knows, her predecessor in Angus, Mike Weir, was supportive, too.

Thales has more than 700 employees in Scotland, the vast majority of whom are at our site in Govan, in Glasgow. Thales’s Glasgow links date back to 1888, which makes the Glasgow part of the company the oldest part in the United Kingdom. As the procurement Minister knows, an early-day motion recently celebrated the centenary of Thales providing optronic systems to submarines—indeed, optronic systems for land, sea and air—and I went to an event to celebrate that centenary. The work carried out by that employer in Glasgow is important. Thales is a major contributor to the Scottish economy, investing more than £850 million since 2000, and supporting a strong and diverse supply chain. Preliminary findings from a report by Oxford Economics found that Thales UK activity supports an additional 2,000 jobs in Scotland, and its total gross domestic product contribution in Scotland is more than £100 million.

On land platforms, the team at Thales in Glasgow established an armoured vehicle centre of excellence, with a view to nurturing the company’s rich engineering heritage and commitment to developing its capabilities well into the future. The centre builds on highly skilled engineers’ and manufacturing employees’ decades of experience in complex military vehicle integration. Thales Glasgow has the capacity and capabilities to support Scotland’s growth in the defence sector outside its traditional maritime contribution.

Combined, the two vehicles that have been contracted for so far could create and sustain 100 jobs in Thales UK, 180 jobs through the supply chain and up to 200 jobs indirectly throughout the UK. Thales’ offering to the MOD’s MRVP programme is the Bushmaster MR6—a military off-the-shelf product with reduced development costs that offers value for money and lower through-life costs. The fact that there are production lines in Australia for vehicle assembly, and in Glasgow for equipment and system integration, reinforce Thales’s ability to achieve cost and risk reduction. The Bushmaster would support 50 highly skilled engineering, design and manufacturing jobs in Glasgow, and there is the potential to create an additional 30 jobs over the lifetime of the programme. It could also support up to 100 jobs in the supply chain across the UK, as I say.

In the context of Brexit, the Government, we hope, are looking to strengthen trade ties with countries outside the EU. I would argue that Thales does that, particularly through its work in Australia. The MRVP programme offers the chance to help combat the trade imbalance with Australia, and supports the development of closer trade and defence equipment ties with that important ally.

On the MIV programme, Thales has supported the prime contractor over the past two years. It has all the expertise and resources to support the Boxer. Thales brings with it its recognised UK mission system integration, survivability and electronic architecture pedigree, developed over many years as a trusted partner of the Ministry of Defence.

I hope that the Minister is sympathetic to my representations on behalf of my local employer, Thales. I look forward to hearing what he has to say.