IMPACT OF DUAL CHALLENGE OF LIBYA AND DEFENCE CUTS ON UK INDUSTRY SET OUT
05 Jul 11. UK’s national trade association head looks to uncertain future for world-leading British sector
Ian Godden, Chairman of A|D|S, the UK’s aerospace, defence and security trade organisation today (Tuesday) addressed a joint Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) and Defence Industries Council (DIC) event “The Libya Dimension – Implications for UK Defence Policy and Support from Industry”. Also speaking at the event at RUSI in Whitehall, London were Con Coughlin, Executive Foreign Editor at The Daily Telegraph and Professor Gwyn Prins, Director, Mackinder Programme for the Study of Long Wave Events at the London School of Economics.
On industry’s role in Libya Mr Godden said, “Like most others, the UK’s intervention in Libya came as a surprise to the defence industry. In terms of support to the Armed Forces all I need to say is that UK Trade and Investment’s Defence and Security Organisation made it clear that industry’s response to this crisis has been ‘phenomenal’. The question we need to ask ourselves now is would the Government have been able to commit to such an urgent and unexpected humanitarian and military mission if it did not have a UK-based defence industry to support the Armed Forces?”
Mr Godden addressed the impact of last year’s Strategic Defence and Security Review on industry to date by saying, “The impact has varied across industry, and has been relatively muted to date as there are still decisions that the Government has yet to take. There is an expectation of greater job losses in the next 2 to 3 years and broader uncertainty has not gone away. Industry needs a clear signal from Government as to what its priorities are and how they will translate into requirements. This will guide industry’s own investment decisions. To date there has been a signal but no clear programme that flows into a plan of action. The sooner, clearer and more affordable the Government’s programme is, the more effectively industry can continue to support our Armed Forces and national security more widely. Industry is hoping to get more certainty from the Defence and Security Equipment, Support and Technology White Paper due in the autumn.”
Mr Godden laid out the industry’s needs from the forthcoming White Paper on defence and security,”Our own priorities for the White Paper can be boiled down to three. First, reform of the MOD and the introduction of a balanced budget. Second, support for exports and finally Government recognition of the importance of technology and, in line with this, continued funding of research and technology in the UK.”
On reform of MoD Mr Godden said, “Last week Lord Levene set out the key reforms to the structure of the MOD. Industry welcomes these changes as we believe that they will lead to a leaner and fitter partner that is better able to make the critical decisions. MoD must possess the skills and resource to be an intelligent customer, buying in independent help from industry where appropriate. It must also take full advantage of the opportunities for savings and increased competition that outsourcing offers to have non-fighting tasks undertaken by the private sector including support in-theatre.
“Industry recognises that Government wants and needs to balance its books. We fully support the MoD in its drive to develop a balanced and affordable equipment programme, but this has to be based on realistic cost forecasts. This is urgent: the sooner this is achieved the better and industry will be able to plan its own investment to support the Armed Forces and the needs for Future Force 2020 and beyond. While we remain in a moratorium with uncertainty over when there will be headroom for future spending, capability is drifting away from the UK, damaging our strategic and economic interests.
“The concern is that in trying to achieve better value for money, we have detected that MoD’s attitude t