Defence Industry: Scotland

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:19 pm on 30th April 2019.

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Photo of Stuart Andrew Stuart Andrew Assistant Whip, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence 5:19 pm, 30th April 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate Ged Killen on securing the debate and for the tone of it. My hon. Friend Stephen Kerr is right that it has been a considered debate about how we might diversify the defence industry in Scotland.

Before I address some of the specific points that have been raised, I want to emphasise the importance of the UK’s defence industry, both in delivering world-class military capabilities to our armed forces and in contributing to the UK economy. Last year’s report into the contribution of defence to UK prosperity by my right hon. Friend Mr Dunne showed that defence benefits every single part of the United Kingdom. It is a sector with an annual turnover of £22 billion supporting some 115,000 jobs. Scotland shares in that national success by benefiting directly from every pound spent on our defence, which is in itself the biggest defence budget in Europe. The report highlighted the range and diversity of the defence industry across the whole of the UK, including in Scotland, and the UK Government’s support for the defence industry in Scotland.

Last year, defence spend with industry in Scotland amounted to £1.65 billion, supporting some 10,000 jobs and equivalent to £300 per capita, which is above the UK average. Martin Docherty-Hughes said that Scotland wants its fair share, but as a Yorkshire MP I would say that £300 per head in Scotland compares very favourably to the £60 per head that we get in Yorkshire and the Humber. I think it is we who want our fair share.