HC Deb 21 June 1994 vol 245 cc107-8
1. Mr. Deva

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what was the level of defence exports in 1993.

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Malcolm Rifkind)

Defence equipment orders in 1993 were in excess of £6.6 billion.

Mr. Deva

Is my right hon. and learned Friend aware that there are some 65 companies which are sub-contractors to the defence industry in my constituency? What is he doing to help them export more?

Mr. Rifkind

I am conscious that many hon. Members on both sides of the House have large numbers of companies, both contractors and sub-contractors, in their constituencies which are very much influenced by defence exports and defence industrial requirements. For that reason, we can all be satisfied that the United Kingdom is second only to the United States in the success that it has had in defence exports. That has not only provided substantial employment for this country, but has been of considerable benefit to our armed forces as a whole.

Mr. Clelland

Does the Secretary of State agree that an important influence in encouraging foreign governments to buy British is for our own Government to do just that? Will he confirm that it is his intention to end speculation and to order a further 200-plus Challenger 2 tanks from Vickers Defence Systems?

Mr. Rifkind

We recognise the importance of the defence needs of the armed forces to the United Kingdom's industrial requirements. Some 90 per cent. of the defence procurement budget is spent in the United Kingdom with United Kingdom companies. We are not yet in a position to announce further orders for Challenger tanks; we will do so as soon as we are able.

Mr. Waterson

Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that, as long as we continue defence exports on such a major scale, it is in our interests also to subscribe to those initiatives sponsored by the UN and others for humanitarian rules in such exports? That will mean that companies such as Computing Devices Ltd. in my constituency will be able to continue to offer employment to my constituents in that field.

Mr. Rifkind

Yes, we attach importance to the considerations that my hon. Friend rightly mentions.

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