Liam Fox calls for value for money at defence expo at the ExCel

Defence Secretary Liam Fox called for value for money in government contracts at the arms expo in the Docklands today.

In a keynote speech inside the ExCel, next to Royal Victoria Dock, the Conservative MP welcomed world exhibitors to the Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEi) and praised the contribution of the UK’s defence and security industries.

There are 1,391 exhibitors at the DSEi from 46 countries, showcasing the world’s biggest display of land, sea and air equipment.

Mr Fox said the defence industry had been a success story in the UK, with growth to a 22 per cent share in global defence markets last year and he praised small businesses who are “world leaders in cutting edge technologies”.

But he said businesses “big and small” would have to adapt to win government contracts in the current economic climate.

He said: “Value for the taxpayer must be demonstrable.”

Mr Fox said it is difficult to be a hawk on defence and a hawk on the deficit, adding “you can’t be secure if you’re broke”.

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He pointed to a contract review undertaken by the Ministry of Defence and a Projects Review Board which would ensure “projects proceed on time and on budget”.

He also defended the export licensing system in the UK.

Protesters gathered near the Custom House DLR station this morning to voice their opposition to the ExCel’s association with the event, which runs until Friday.

Mr Fox said: “Defence and security form a fundamental part of the coalition government’s agenda for growth while also being part of a strategy of enlightened international engagement.

“To represent Britain in war, peace and business is to represent our inherent democratic values.

“Our export licensing regime is amongst the most rigorous in the world.

“When circumstances change we act quickly to revoke licenses just as we did earlier in the year as events in the Middle East and North Africa unfurled.

”It is in our interest to create security where there is none… and reinforce responsible government.”