CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

DEFENCE – DEFENCE EXPORTS & LIB-DEMS – 17 October 2007

[Mr Richard Benyon: ... Today, we have an opportunity to hold the Government to account for what I believe is the classically bad decision to close the Defence Export Services Organisation and move its residual role to another Department. ... Whatever arises from DESO's ashes, the perception in the marketplace is that Britain is out of the game. The best people are leaving to work in the private sector and there is a general belief in the marketplace that the British Government want nothing to do with defence exports. I noticed how happy some organisations opposed to the arms trade were with the decision, and there was talk of parties being held after the announcement. However, I submit that their joy should be short-lived.]

Dr Julian Lewis: One group of people who, I am sure, are delighted at the decision are members of the Liberal Democrat Party, who have always been enemies of defence exports, no matter how legitimate and proper. Has my hon. Friend any idea why there is not a single Liberal Democrat present in the debate – not even their spokesman?

[Mr Benyon: I suspect that they have other things on their mind at the moment ... ]