Mr Patsy McGlone (Mid Ulster): To ask the Minister for the Economy what recent discussions she has held with (i) industry representatives; and (ii) the UK Government on an aerospace industry taskforce to help safeguard jobs in Northern Ireland.
Minister for the Economy: I meet aerospace industry representatives and the sector body, ADS, on a regular basis to hear directly from them about the extraordinary challenges being faced by Aviation and Aerospace, induced by COVID-19. I also meet Whitehall Ministerial colleagues bilaterally and as part of a Devolved Nations Group to represent the economic interests of Northern Ireland including Aerospace.
I will host a meeting of the Northern Ireland Aerospace industry group again on 23 November and on for that occasion, I have invited Whitehall Ministerial colleagues from the Department for Business, Ministry of Defence and Department for International Trade, to hear directly about, not only the challenges being faced by businesses, but also the opportunities to diversify into other areas such as defence, as they begin to see beyond COVID-19.
There are two Task Forces already established at UK-wide level in response the COVID-19 impact on Aviation and Aerospace. The Prime Minister established a Global Travel Taskforce under the joint Chairmanship of the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care and the Secretary of State for Transport to consider further how Government can address issues associated with international travel. The UK Aerospace Supply Chain Task Force, Chaired by Tom Williams and established in consultation with ADS and industry primes, is co-ordinating help to minimise the impact of COVID-19 by taking action to support the business continuity of critical UK aerospace suppliers in the short-term, whilst enabling longer-term recapitalisation and investments in strategic capabilities to ensure future competitiveness of the UK supply chain.
I remain firmly of the view that we cannot solve the existential crisis facing the sector on our own. Solutions lie in a collaborative and joined up approach across the UK, and internationally, and I shall continue to do everything possible to represent the interests of Northern Ireland in that context.