4 Lord Udny-Lister debates involving the Ministry of Defence

King’s Speech

Lord Udny-Lister Excerpts
Wednesday 15th November 2023

(8 months ago)

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Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, it has been a pleasure to listen to what has been an interesting and far-reaching debate, and I am grateful to have the opportunity of speaking on this.

Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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When considering the highly volatile nature of international affairs at this time, it is not surprising to hear so many insightful and well-informed speeches in your Lordships’ House, especially from the noble Lords, Lord Roberts and Lord Young. I join the noble Lord, Lord Wilson, in his comments about David Cameron in his new office as Foreign Secretary. We need strong leadership at this time and people who really understand the world and its affairs, and who have good contacts. It is a dangerous and difficult place, and we do need that.

I will start by saying a few words on international trade because I believe that is essential in bringing countries together and is a force for good. With our departure from the European Union, we have an unrivalled opportunity to benefit from free trade. I was so encouraged to see the Government bring forward the Bill to promote free trade and investment, particularly with the CPTPP. This opportunity to bring together with the UK a number of middle-ranking countries in the Pacific, along with Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Japan, and all the others in that club, enables us to have more of an influence in free trade, especially with like-minded countries.

In a dangerous and unstable world, it is vital that the Government approach future bilateral agreements with strategic foresight and understanding that the trade deals of today must pave the way for broader co-operation and the security of tomorrow.

I congratulate the Prime Minister on the success of the UK’s AI summit at Bletchley and I am pleased to see that the focus on this important and fast-moving area remains a priority for the Government. This is partly because the future of trade, particularly digital trade, is entwined with advancements in AI. If we can remain at the forefront of harnessing and correctly regulating the application of this transformative technology, we will pave the way for a truly global Britain where our business can thrive and our markets expand. That said, we all know that AI is not without risks, and I therefore hope that the Government will continue to look carefully at AI’s impact on trade, particularly in the context of cybersecurity and ensuring the safety and reliability of digital trade.

Against the backdrop of the worrying situation in Israel, I further welcome the Government’s commitment to progressing the economic activities of public bodies Bill, and I hope that, with the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the UK, this legislation will be timetabled to progress with speed. As a former leader of a council, I can say with confidence that local residents simply want their councillors to get on with the job of delivering high-quality and cost-effective services. It is not the job of councils to pursue their own foreign policy agendas, especially in ways which undermine the UK’s international standing and leave individual communities at risk of hate and persecution. I therefore welcome this government commitment.

One cannot miss the opportunity today to comment on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Rwanda plan, which shows just how difficult the situation is and that a change of direction is now needed. We need a robust, fair system to deal with asylum seekers. As I have said previously, I believe that should be through bilateral deals with countries—I cite the example of the Albanian joint communiqué that was announced not very long ago. I believe that is the direction of travel we should be following.

I conclude by reminding His Majesty’s Government that Britain, with its rich history, economic prowess and defence capabilities, has an unparalleled opportunity to be at the forefront of causing the international order to meet the demands of this highly interconnected world. The task of steadying the choppy waters of global affairs is becoming more difficult by the day. The challenges are immense but the potential for a brighter and more secure future is within our grasp, and that is why the Government have my support in delivering on the promises outlined in the gracious Speech.

Integrated Review: Update

Lord Udny-Lister Excerpts
Tuesday 31st January 2023

(1 year, 5 months ago)

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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I hold the noble Lord in very high regard, but I do not hold the purse strings of government. However, he sends a consistent message, and I am sure that it is resonating beyond this Chamber.

Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, the integrated review quite rightly makes the point that international agreements are key, and we are a member of the Five Eyes. As we make a greater tilt to the Far East, can the Minister assure us that there is some consideration of increasing the Five Eyes to include Japan?

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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I say to my noble friend that I obviously cannot be specific. Five Eyes is a very important collaboration, and it is relevant to our activity in the Indo-Pacific area. My noble friend makes an interesting suggestion. We already have a good bilateral defence and diplomatic relationship with Japan, but I listen with interest to what he says.

Sheffield Forgemasters

Lord Udny-Lister Excerpts
Wednesday 8th September 2021

(2 years, 10 months ago)

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Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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As the noble Lord will be aware, the Government take a very keen interest in and keep a vigilant eye on security of defence supply. In relation to the specific issue that he mentions, the Government are closely monitoring the proposed acquisition of Meggitt by Parker-Hannifin. The Government have powers, as the noble Lord will be aware, under the Enterprise Act 2002, to intervene in transactions that raise national security concerns and will not hesitate to use those powers as appropriate if the UK’s national security interests are at risk.

Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con)
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My Lords, like others today, I congratulate the Minister and the Government on taking control and purchasing Sheffield Forgemasters. It is a company with a long and very distinguished history—it goes back over 200 years—but, like the rest of the British steel industry, it is seriously undercapitalised. It needs financial investment. The £400 million is great news, but that can be only the beginning of the likely level of investment that is needed. It will also need investment in management, in skills training and in the workforce to make sure that it is one that is not ageing and that younger people want to join. Above all, it needs a long-term commitment; there has been far too much short-termism in the steel industry. Although I fully welcome this step, I would like the Minister’s assurance that the MoD will look at Sheffield Forgemasters in the long term.

Baroness Goldie Portrait Baroness Goldie (Con)
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Yes, I am happy to give my noble friend that assurance. It is demonstrated by our commitment to provide up to £400 million of funding to the company over the next 10 years. Some of the defence programmes that Sheffield Forgemasters is a unique supplier to will in fact stretch beyond that period, so we have acted to ensure that the company continues to be able to meet these long-term requirements.

Queen’s Speech

Lord Udny-Lister Excerpts
Wednesday 19th May 2021

(3 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Udny-Lister Portrait Lord Udny-Lister (Con) (Maiden Speech)
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My Lords, I speak for the first time and with humility. I start by thanking my two sponsors, the noble Lords, Lord Marland and Lord Kakkar, who kindly introduced me to the House, and all the staff who have been so helpful in explaining things. I also thank all the Members of the House who have made me feel so welcome. I really appreciate the level of expertise in this House.

To introduce myself, I was a councillor and, subsequently, council leader in Wandsworth, for 18 years. In 2011, I became the chief of staff and deputy mayor for planning and policy for the Mayor of London. In 2019, I became the Prime Minister’s chief strategic adviser, a post which I held until February of this year. I was privileged to be part of his team as first Brexit and then Covid became the dominating national and political issues. Outside politics, I am a businessman who has worked both in the UK and abroad for various engineering and property companies. I hope that my experience and accrued knowledge can be brought to the benefit of this House. I appreciate what a privilege it is to sit here.

I was working in government as an adviser when we began the integrated review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, back in 2020. We could not foresee then the coronavirus pandemic and what became perhaps the greatest international crisis since the Second World War. On a personal level it has been a tragedy for so many people, and on a national level it has shown us that threats and tests can take many forms. As a nation, we have come through it and are now emerging with resilience and hope for better times ahead. That is a testament to the spirit of the British people and the heroic services of NHS staff.

Brexit means that we have now begun a new chapter. The United Kingdom now has the capacity to control and take our own decisions and to be open to the world, and the opportunity to forge new relationships. A trade and co-operation agreement with the EU allows us both to maintain close relationships with our European partners and to set our own global path economically and politically. I believe that, by 2030, the UK should be deeply engaged in the Indo-Pacific, active in Africa and nurturing thriving relationships in the Middle East, based on trade, green innovation and science and technology collaboration.

The Government must, of course, protect our people, our nation and our democracy. It is important that they have begun the biggest programme of investment in defence since the end of the Cold War. Defence policy needs to be modernised to utilise the new domains of cyber and space, and to equip our Armed Forces with cutting-edge technology. The UK needs capabilities such as the counterterrorism operations centre and the National Cyber Force. State threats are emerging, in the form of illicit finance, coercive economic measures, disinformation, cyberattacks, electoral interference and the use of weapons of mass destruction. Terrorist attacks remain real, whether Islamist inspired, Northern Ireland-related or driven by other motivations. Learning from the pandemic, the Government must keep their promise to bolster our national resilience with a new situation centre at the heart of Government. It is vital to improve our use of data and our ability to anticipate and respond to future crises.

I intend to hold this Government to account in meeting their pledge to establish the UK as a global services, digital and data hub. The Government have made tackling climate change and biodiversity loss their number one international priority. The UK was the first advanced economy to set a net-zero target of 2050. This target needs to be closely monitored by this House and others, to make sure that it is achieved. The ingenuity of the British people and the strength of our union, combined with our international partnerships, modernised Armed Forces and a new green agenda, should enable the UK to look forward with confidence as we shape the world of the future.