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PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS

30 Jul 20. Inquiry Launch and Announcement of Planned Sub-Committee. Defence Committee. Defence Committee launches inquiry into Foreign Involvement in the Defence Supply Chain. The Defence Committee today launches its inquiry into Foreign Involvement in the Defence Supply Chain. It is expected that this inquiry will become a Sub-Committee, led by proposed Chair Richard Drax MP.

The inquiry and planned Sub-Committee will scrutinise the vulnerabilities of the UK’s defence supply chain following the Covid-19 pandemic, with a particular focus on the impact on SMEs and mid-sized companies. The Committee will assess the current level of foreign ownership, particularly ownership by companies with links to states which could have “ulterior motives”. Additionally, the Committee will explore the current and planned regulatory regime for government intervention to prevent foreign ownership of defence, or defence-related, companies. This inquiry will examine the proposed National Security Investment Bill, due to be debated in Parliament later this year.

The Committee welcomes evidence on the following:

  • What is the current extent of foreign ownership of the UK’s defence and security sectors?
  • What has been the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the defence and security supply chain, particularly the finances of SMEs?
  • Under what circumstance will the Government currently intervene to prevent foreign takeovers in these sectors and what changes does the planned National Security Investment Bill make?
  • Are additional measures required to protect UK Defence and Security technological advances?
  • How does the UK’s regime compare internationally and what can the UK learn from its allies?

Proposed Chair of the planned Sub-Committee on Foreign Involvement in the Defence Supply Chain, Richard Drax MP, said: “The global economy is more interconnected than ever and the defence supply chain is no exception to this rule. Our Armed Forces, and the wider population, rely on equipment and technology manufactured overseas and by foreign-owned companies within the UK. Through this reliance on international companies, we forfeit a degree of control, and must ask ourselves whether we are inadvertently allowing foreign actors access, or leverage, that compromises our national security. It is no secret that state actors are employing increasingly creative and covert methods to gain intelligence and to exert influence.  Covid-19 has exacerbated vulnerabilities in the defence supply chain. In the wake of the pandemic, many small and medium-sized companies are struggling to stay afloat, and a foreign buy out may be the only available lifeline.  This inquiry will scrutinise the kinks in the defence supply chain, attempt to understand its frailties, as well as where there may be heightened exposure to manipulation by states with ulterior motives.”

Form of written evidence:

Submissions should be no longer than 3,000 words. The main body of any submission should use numbered paragraphs. Each submission should contain:

  • a short summary, perhaps in bullet point form;
  • a brief introduction about the person or organisation submitting evidence, for example explaining their area of expertise or experience;
  • any factual information from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses;
  • any recommendations for action by the Government or others which the submitter would like the Committee to consider for inclusion in its report to the House.

Submissions should be in malleable format such as MS Word (not PDFs) with no use of colour or logos. Guidance on submitting written evidence and data protection information is available here: Guidance on submitting written evidence.

Deadline for submissions

The Committee is asking for initial written evidence to be submitted through the Committee’s web portal by midnight on 18 September 2020.

It is recommended that all submitters familiarise themselves with the Guidance on giving evidence to a Select Committee of the House of Commons which outlines particulars of word count, format, document size, and content restrictions.

Diversity

We encourage members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence. We aim to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and ask organisations to bear this in mind when we ask them to choose a representative. We are currently monitoring the diversity of our witnesses.

House of Commons and House of Lords Hansard Written Answers

Q

Asked by Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick

Asked on: 20 July 2020

Ministry of Defence

Defence Equipment: Finance

HL7020

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what recent assessment they have made of the affordability of The defence equipment plan 2019, published on 27 February.

A

Answered by: Baroness Goldie

Answered on: 28 July 2020

The Secretary of State is taking steps to manage the financial pressures in the Ministry of Defence’s plans. We have reduced the shortfall in the years from 2020-21 by securing £2.2 billion extra spending for Defence in the 2019 Spending Round and we are driving progress in our ambitious Transformation programme. Future spending decisions are for the forthcoming spending review.

Q

Asked by Baroness Stern

Asked on: 22 July 2020

Ministry of Defence

Unmanned Air Vehicles

HL7184

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many Watchkeeper airframes are currently in-service; and how many have (1) undertaken flights in the past 12 months, and (2) been in storage for longer than 12 months.

A

Answered by: Baroness Goldie

Answered on: 28 July 2020

45 Watchkeeper airframes were in service as at 23 July 2020. 13 have flown in the past 12 months and 23 have been in storage for longer than 12 months. Of those flying, 10 have been operated by the Army from Akrotiri in Cyprus and Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, three have been used for test and evaluation. The airframes in storage are held at specific, graduated, levels of readiness. This is commensurate with practices used on other Defence capabilities and assets.

 

Q

Asked by Viscount Waverley

Asked on: 15 July 2020

Ministry of Defence

Russia: Submarines

HL6915

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment has been made of recent Russian submarine deployment into the Mediterranean and Baltic seas.

A

Answered by: Baroness Goldie

Answered on: 27 July 2020

The Ministry of Defence monitors the deployments of Russian submarines and makes assessments based on their operational capability. A nuclear-powered submarine transited from its Northern Fleet base to St Petersburg where it will take part in Russia’s Navy Day on 26th July, as part of a predicted annual commitment. A further Russian submarine transited from its Black Sea base port to Tartus, Syria, as part of their routine presence operations in the eastern Mediterranean. Russia continues to be a significant state-based threat to the UK; monitoring and responding to this threat is a core priority for the Ministry of Defence.

 

Q

Asked by Andrea Jenkyns

(Morley and Outwood)

Asked on: 20 July 2020

Ministry of Defence

Defence: Procurement

76795

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what assessment has he made of the potential merits of using the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement’s defence exemption instead of the EU defence directives’ exemption.

A

Answered by: Jeremy Quin

Answered on: 27 July 2020

Since 2012, the Governments default position of defence procurement has been open competition wherever appropriate to obtain the best capability for our Armed Forces, whilst achieving value for money for the taxpayer.

The Ministry of Defence is leading the cross-Government review into the UK’s defence and security industrial sectors to ensure our approach enables competitive, innovative and world-class defence and security industries. The terms of any national security exemption will be part of that review.

Grouped Questions: 76794

Q

Asked by John Healey

(Wentworth and Dearne)

Asked on: 16 July 2020

Ministry of Defence

Iraq: Detainees

75194

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the Answer of 14 July 2020 to Question 70307 on Ministry of Defence: Iraq Detainees, given that the Alseran judgement was handed down on 14 December 2017, when does the Ministry of Defence anticipate concluding the remaining 414 outstanding claims.

A

Answered by: Johnny Mercer

Answered on: 24 July 2020

We are unable to comment with any degree of certainty as to when the remaining 414 outstanding claims will be concluded because such conclusion is dependent on the settlement of both the damages and costs elements of the claims. Whilst discussions are ongoing with a view to agreeing a negotiated settlement of the outstanding claims, if no agreement can be reached in respect of those outstanding issues that preclude a final settlement, those outstanding issues will become the subject of further Court proceedings that could foreseeably continue until December 2021.

 

 

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