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Military aircaft

Ministry of Defence written question – answered on 5th September 2019.

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Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment his Department has made of the potential effect of the proposed takeover of Cobham plc by Advent International on the continuation and future of the major UK defence programmes (a) Air Tanker and (b) Tempest; and what alternatives will be available to those programmes in the event that Cobham plc ceases to contribute to them.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what preliminary assessment his Department has made of the implications for the UK's defence industrial strategy of the proposed acquisition of Cobham plc by a US-based private equity firm; what impact such a takeover will have on the availability to other countries of sensitive defence technology; what guarantees the Government will seek from the potential new proprietors in respect of such technologies remaining (a) based in, and (b) available to the UK; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will publish a list of the principal (a) defence services and (b) items of defence equipment supplied by Cobham plc to the UK armed forces either directly or as component parts of services and goods supplied by other defence companies for (i) threat simulation services and equipment, (ii) air-to-air refuelling systems, (iii) weapons-release equipment and (iv) other categories of services and equipment; what steps he will take to ensure that future generations of those services and equipment will continue to be available to the UK armed forces in the event that Cobham plc ceases to bid for the long-term contracts required to develop and deliver them; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Julian Lewis Julian Lewis Chair, Defence Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will hold discussions with the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on calling-in the proposed takeover of Cobham plc to protect UK defence interests.

Photo of Anne-Marie Trevelyan Anne-Marie Trevelyan The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence

While the proposed transaction for Cobham plc by Advent International is primarily a commercial matter for the parties concerned, we are closely monitoring the situation.

Ministry Of Defence (MOD) officials have met both parties to understand their plans in relation to the proposed acquisition. Ministers can intervene in mergers on public interest grounds covering national security, financial stability or media plurality, with each merger considered on a case by case basis.

The MOD provides advice in this process to the relevant Secretary of State, who has a quasi-judicial role in deciding whether to intervene in mergers. The Secretary of State must consider only the evidence relevant to the public interest grounds raised. This also means that it is not appropriate for the Government to provide commentary on whether public interest concerns arise in relation to a merger ahead of any decision on whether to intervene.

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