Defence Industry: Scotland

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:12 pm on 30th April 2019.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Shadow Minister (Scotland) 5:12 pm, 30th April 2019

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hollobone. I congratulate my hon. Friend Ged Killen on securing this debate on such an important topic to Scotland. He made a number of important points and spoke with great passion about the opportunity for companies such as Thales with its multi-role vehicle programme. I recently visited Thales, which, as Chris Stephens mentioned, is located in his constituency. There is the potential to create 180 new jobs in Glasgow. Of course, opportunity is centred not just on that site, because of the importance of the supply chain. For example, Allied Vehicles, which is one of the largest automotive companies in Scotland and is located in my constituency, stands to benefit from participation in that programme if we drive forward the opportunity for automotive development in the defence sector in Scotland. That is just one of the many examples of how we can grow the supply chain in Scotland.

In preparing for the debate, I could not help looking back at the previous few years both in my life and career and in politics. Having worked at BAE Systems on the Clyde and at Scottish Enterprise, where I was part of the team that developed the aerospace, defence, marine and shipbuilding strategy with the industry leadership group, I know the role that a thriving defence sector can play when it is given not only resources but political backing. The importance of that was spelled out by the work of the ADMS strategy, which identified that 38,408 people are employed across 825 companies in the sector, and that there are £5.5 billion of sales a year, generating £1.7 billion in gross value added, from which there is an annual tax revenue of £540 million to the Scottish economy. That is a huge benefit to the Scottish economy. Sadly, the resources and political backing are not fully met by the Government. Political ideology seems to have blighted the clear economic opportunities provided by the defence sector.