HC Deb 08 November 1977 vol 938 cc459-60
3. Mr. Hal Miller

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements he has made for his Department to assess the country's industrial capability for defence.

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Dr. John Gilbert)

In conjunction with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry, we from time to time review the capabilities of those industries that are involved in defence production.

Mr. Miller

When did the last review take place? Is the Minister aware that there is widespread concern amongst defence contracting firms about the difficulty of maintaining, let alone replacing, existing plant?

Dr. Gilbert

There is no simultaneous overall review of industry. Reviews take place from time to time of situations in individual industries. On the capabilities of our defence industry, all I can say is that the Ministry of Defence places only 10 per cent. of its contracts with non-United Kingdom firms.

Mr. Pattie

Does the Minister feel that decisions to purchase foreign equipment without first ensuring reciprocal purchases from this country assist or hinder our industrial capability for defence procurement?

Dr. Gilbert

One simply has to look at these matters on a case-by-case basis. Sometimes we try to get offset within a particular procurement, and on other occasions it is more appropriate to seek an offset by selling another country a completely separate system.