Combat Air Strategy — [Graham Stringer in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 1:30 pm on 27th June 2019.

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Photo of Robert Courts Robert Courts Conservative, Witney 1:30 pm, 27th June 2019

I agree entirely. We often do not realise the impact of the defence industry on each of our constituencies. Many of us will have in our constituencies sometimes quite small companies that make something as part of the supply chain for a much bigger machine. That is absolutely right, and we must work hard to protect that. As the right hon. Gentleman rightly identifies, it goes to the wider impact of technology on the rest of our lives.

I would like each and every one of us, as individual MPs, to consider making arguments to the Treasury about how defence is accounted for. We have to start fighting the battle to turn the tide against the perception that defence and the defence industry simply cost money. I am very encouraged by the Secretary of State for Defence’s comments in the current edition of The House magazine; I hope you will not mind if I quote her, Mr Stringer. She says:

“I think that the Treasury has been missing a trick. It has not really understood the full value of defence to the nation. The methodology that it uses is flawed. So, in advance of the spending review I will be setting out why I think it should change its methodology towards its assessment of the return to the UK of investing in defence. I think there’s much more we can do to reap the benefits that defence brings to the UK prosperity agenda.”

I entirely agree. However, I do not think it is a matter for only the Defence Secretary to deal with. It is a matter for each of us—whether we have military or the defence industry in our constituencies, or both—to keep making the case for what the defence industry and our armed forces bring to UK plc.