Share

A former Tory defence procurement minister was facing questions today for demanding greater UK military spending in Parliament without revealing his links to a jet engine firm paying him £425-an-hour.

Philip Dunne, who was in Government under David Cameron and Theresa May, criticised ‘the stop-start nature of political decision making on multi-year projects’ in defence in a debate last November.

He followed it up with interventions in debates in December and again in March. But at the time, the Ludlow MP, 63, now a senior backbencher, was a non-executive director of Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines. 

The firm is involved in making super-fast hypersonic propulsion systems, a technology that has interested space agencies and has military applications.

It has paid him £3,400 a month for eight hours’ work since July 2020, according to the Register of MPs Financial Interests.

In July it received a £3.9 million grant from the UK Space Agency to ‘support the development’ of its Sabre hypersonic engines ‘enabling low-carbon air-breathing space access propulsion technology to be applied more widely in the space sector and beyond’.

Labour deputy Leader Angela Rayner said: ‘The public have a right to know what role, if any, Philip Dunne played in the awarding of contracts to Reaction Engines so the details of all correspondence and meetings between the company, Dunne and ministers must be published in full.’

Philip Dunne (above), who was in Government under David Cameron and Theresa May, criticised the 'the stop-start nature of political decision making on multi-year projects' in defence in a debate a year ago (below)

Philip Dunne (above), who was in Government under David Cameron and Theresa May, criticised the 'the stop-start nature of political decision making on multi-year projects' in defence in a debate a year ago (below)

Philip Dunne (above), who was in Government under David Cameron and Theresa May, criticised the ‘the stop-start nature of political decision making on multi-year projects’ in defence in a debate a year ago (below) 

But at the time, the Ludlow MP, 63, was a non-executive director of Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines.

But at the time, the Ludlow MP, 63, was a non-executive director of Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines.

But at the time, the Ludlow MP, 63, was a non-executive director of Oxfordshire-based Reaction Engines.

In July it received a £3.9 million grant from the UK Space Agency to 'support the development' of its Sabre hypersonic engines 'enabling low-carbon air-breathing space access propulsion technology to be applied more widely in the space sector and beyond'.

In July it received a £3.9 million grant from the UK Space Agency to 'support the development' of its Sabre hypersonic engines 'enabling low-carbon air-breathing space access propulsion technology to be applied more widely in the space sector and beyond'.

In July it received a £3.9 million grant from the UK Space Agency to ‘support the development’ of its Sabre hypersonic engines ‘enabling low-carbon air-breathing space access propulsion technology to be applied more widely in the space sector and beyond’.

Mr Dunne, who has represented his Shropshire seat since 2005, was a defence procurement minister under Mr Cameron between 2012 and 2016. 

He later became a health minister under Theresa May until 2018. He now chairs the Environmental Audit Committee.

In a Commons debate in November last year he ‘warmly welcomed’ an increase in UK military spending, adding:  ‘A significant challenge in defence budgeting is the stop-start nature of political decision making on multi-year projects, so this statement will help to modernise the equipment plan and get it back on track, which is welcome.’

‘Does the Prime Minister agree that the United Kingdom can now fully take into account the UK prosperity impact of defence procurement, and will he do what he can to ensure that state aid issues and the opportunity cost of making in the UK are fully recognised by the Treasury?’

In December he again raised military spending in the chamber, asking the Treasury to ‘accept that a pound spent on defence in the UK is worth more than a multiplier of 1 in the levelling-up impact on the UK economy.’

And in March this year he again spoke on defence spending and the Government’s industrial strategy, saying: ‘Key to gaining public and cross-governmental support for increasing defence expenditure is measuring the impact of that spend on the economy, especially the regional impact in helping to level up Britain. 

‘That requires a good handle on data, which is why I recommended establishing defence economics as a valuable tool for the MOD, Defence Equipment and Support, and the defence industry, to help to assess the merits of competing investment proposals when allocating spend.’

MailOnline has approached Mr Dunne for comment. 

In a statement to the Times, Reaction Engines said: ‘Reaction Engines is a UK-headquartered technology company and has received research and development funding from both private and public sources as well as revenue from civilian commercial customers. All funding received from UK government sources has followed strict due diligence procedures.

‘Philip Dunne has been employed as a non-executive director at Reaction Engines since July 2020 and has not arranged or attended any meetings with ministers, nor has he been involved in any of Reaction Engines’ discussions with ministers or officials related to government contracts or investment decisions.’

Source: Daily Mail UK

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *