Earlier this month I had a week that really brought my work as a Worcestershire MP and as a defence minister together.
On the Monday I went to Bristol to see the missile company MBDA and congratulate them on winning a contract to develop the new local air defence missile for the Royal Navy's frigates. Known as Sea Ceptor this missile has real export potential for use by our allies and will form the basis of similar missile for use by the army and air force - and its motor will be developed and built by Roxel at Summerfield.

The following day I launched a Government policy document, a White Paper, on defence and security equipment. It contained a lot of measures to help small businesses and promised an end to years of reductions in spending on defence science. This should be good news for QinetiQ at Malvern who are well placed to win contracts from MoD's science budget.

On the Thursday of the same week I visited a company called TRaC who test defence equipment. The facility I visited was in Dorset but the managers of this expanding business told me that part of their success was being located near their major customers - and that was why their facility in Worcestershire, again at Malvern, was also crucial to them and doing well.

And, I'm pleased to say, on the Friday, I was quizzed by constituents about defence issues during my Droitwich surgery.

The equipment I am responsible for is there to help the armed forces do their job protecting our security, but these examples showed me powerfully how the benefit of developing, producing and testing it often comes to our county.

It also reminds me that it is nonsense to say Britain doesn't make anything any more. This week I am visiting other defence manufacturers in Manchester and Northern Ireland. Over the last year I have been to Scotland, Wales, and to many parts of England seeing the huge success of British companies both large and small.

Manufacturing is strong in the UK, in defence, aerospace, automotive and much more besides. Perhaps the greatest risk it faces is that those who talk it down will deter talented young people from going into engineering. Having seen what I've seen recently locally and nationally, If I were starting off on my career now, I'm pretty sure I would choose science or engineering.


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