Like many others I have become increasingly concerned about the risk that Leonardo’s Yeovil site would drift towards a maintenance and assembly facility only. For this reason I have been pressing the Government for six months now to make it clear that they are committed to maintaining and supporting the full range of skills at Yeovil, so that we can continue to design and manufacture the nation's helicopters.
I therefore greatly welcome the answer I received today in the Lords from Government Minister, Lord Prior in which he promised:
"The capacity to manufacture helicopters in the UK is extremely important. The MoD is entirely committed to that. We will be publishing a refresh strategy later on in the year which ... will make that clear"
Paddy Ashdown asked:
“The Minster is aware that a Defence Industry Strategy.. paper will be published later this year. Is he aware that if, like the Industrial Strategy published last week, that document does not contain a clear commitment by the Government to maintain and preserve our national ability to design and manufacture helicopters... then that capability will be lost, along with hundreds of jobs in Yeovil and a key national aero-space industrial asset. Everyone else recognises that danger. Why is the Government blind to it?”
Lord Prior of Brampton is the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy