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

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:13 pm on 6th February 2019.

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Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 4:13 pm, 6th February 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Ms Ryan. I congratulate Chris Stephens on securing the debate. I do not know whether something about him means that the whole Chamber leaves when he has his debates—perhaps they should all have stayed to listen to his contribution—but I am glad that the he is rightly standing up for his constituents and his constituency. I will come on to some of the specific points he made in more detail in a moment, but I will first provide some context for defence spending in Scotland.

Last year’s report on the contribution of defence to UK prosperity, which was produced by my right hon. Friend Mr Dunne, showed that defence benefits every single part of the United Kingdom. The sector has annual turnover of £22 billion and supports some 260,000 jobs. Scotland very much shares in that national success, benefiting directly from every pound that is spent on defence. To illustrate the point, it is worth looking at two of the key areas where defence spending in Scotland is concentrated. The first element relates to our spending with industry in Scotland. Last year, as the hon. Member for Glasgow South West said, that spending amounted to £1.65 billion, supporting 10,000 jobs. That is equivalent to £300 per capita, which is above the UK average. I know that he was complaining about some other regions, but I represent Yorkshire, and Scotland is doing a heck of a lot better than Yorkshire on defence spending.

We cannot talk about the defence industry in Scotland without recognising, as the hon. Gentleman did, the incredible expertise of the Scottish shipbuilding sector. With a history dating back more than 150 years, it has long been the envy of the world, and it remains a global leader. In the past few years, Scotland has played a major part in the building, assembly and successful delivery of HMS Queen Elizabeth, the most powerful surface vessel in British history, as we all know.

The MOD has already placed a £3.7 billion contract to build the first three state-of-the-art Type 26 global combat ships on the Clyde, in the place—I can now confirm—where all eight will eventually be built. The first of those City-class frigates has been named HMS Glasgow, which I am sure the hon. Gentleman is delighted about, and the last will be HMS Edinburgh, again recognising Scotland’s contribution. Coupled with our order for five offshore patrol vessels, that work will sustain some 4,000 jobs in the Scottish shipyards and throughout the supply chain until the 2030s.