The Island’s MP, Andrew Turner, yesterday made representations in Westminster on behalf of one of the largest private employers on the Isle of Wight, BAE Systems. Mr Turner called for the debate after concerns were raised with him jointly by BAE management and unions about the future of the British radar industry, and specifically BAE’s part in it.
Speaking about the history of radar production and the role played by BAE, Mr Turner outlined how they remain a key player in the defence of the UK. The company is also a significant contributor to the British economy and that of the Isle of Wight; neither can afford to lose their continued participation in the radar industry. As a result, BAE’s continuing relationship with the MOD is one of vital importance to their credibility in the global export market.
Mr Turner also told the Minister:
“Radar has defended our country definitively at least once, in 1940. It is likely that it has done so on many other occasions that are not in the public domain and it is more than likely that it will do so again in the future. I pose this question: is it not essential that the radar technology our military are asked to use should be of British origin, in research, design and manufacture? It makes perfect sense to me that the company that we use to develop such sensitive technology should be British-based, like most of its employees.”
The debate was answered by the Minister responsible for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff MP who said :
“I think I can assure the whole House that we remain committed to supporting the future of the UK radar industry and to me, Mr Chairman, the future of the industry looks exceptionally bright. I’m sure that Mr Turner has every reason to be confident about the industry and I’m sure for his own constituents as well.”
Speaking after the debate Mr Turner said:
“The Minister outlined huge opportunities abroad for British radar. I wanted to point out that our own Government needs to show faith in the British radar industry in order to support credibility for that export market. In collaboration with the British Government BAE have delivered world-leading technology; in order to make the most of that investment and protect jobs in Cowes and elsewhere, they also need to win export orders. I am very glad the Minister confirmed that the Government will support them in doing that.”