In Monday's debate looking ahead to the Strategic Defence Review, two newly-elected Lancashire MPs delivered their maiden speeches.
"We make things in Fylde. It is the home of nuclear fuel, employing 2,000 people, and in a future debate I wish to expand on that point. It is home also to the military aircraft division of BAE Systems, employing more than 8,000 people directly. Indeed, it is not only the home of the Typhoon Eurofighter; Nimrod final fit-outs and all the developmental work on unmanned aerial vehicles takes place there. The Americans take the credit for many things, but one thing for which they cannot take credit is that technology. The United Kingdom is the world leader in that technology, and it is developed in my constituency.
"On the defence review, I should like to make an appeal to the Minister. I know that budgets are tight and many Members from all parts with interests in defence procurement are making pitches, but we need Typhoon tranche 3b for a number of reasons. We live in an unpredictable world, and, as my hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex (Mr Jenkin) said, we cannot tell what the future holds, other than that it will be unpredictable. At times Government Front Benchers talk about export potential, and British Aerospace is working very hard in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Japan to win exports. However, the aircraft's cost model is built on the premise of a future RAF order, and Ministers must be aware that if a future order is not forthcoming the cost dynamics will change, and BAE might not be competitive with the United States and France in export markets."
Unusually, he concluded by paying tribute to the Unite trade union:
"I may be the only Conservative Member to do so, but there we have an example of the trade union working with BAE management and the Government to deliver what is important: a quality product, products coming off the production line and everyone pulling in the same direction. I really hope that Unite continues to work with the current Government and with BAE to deliver that."
"Across the north-west, 3,400 volunteers-men and women-are in the TA, on top of the Royal Naval Reserve, the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and the Royal Marines Reserve. Since 2003, 1,700 of those volunteers have served in Afghanistan, Iraq and the Balkans. I wish to pay tribute here to the chairman of my association, Dr Robin Jackson, who is commander of 207 Field Hospital (Volunteers), soon to go out to Afghanistan. I am sure that all hon. Members' prayers, as well as mine, go with those people on their second tour of duty in that country. I was so pleased when, in response to questions from more eloquent Members than me, the Secretary of State spoke about the importance of our reserves, what they contribute, and the mobility that they give to this country and to the Army's capability. They are a fantastic operation."
He also pleaded for our troops to be properly equipped:
"As I am sure most Members understand, all our constituents are questioning our engagements abroad at the moment. Certainly in my constituency-where people are, as they say, not backward in coming forward-the jury is still out on what is going on in Afghanistan. However, I will tell Members what they will not put up with and what they expect from this new Parliament: whatever future engagements the Government have for our soldiers, whether regular or volunteer, never again should they be sent out there without the best equipment that this country can provide."