On social media some people have tried to undermine my genuine and considered concerns over Jeremy Corbyn by claiming I am a ‘warmonger’ who attended a dinner with “arms dealer”.
In my capacity as Shadow Minister for Cyber Security and Vice Chair of the Parliamentary Space Committee, I was invited to the ADS Annual Dinner on 3rd February 2015. ADS is the industry group representing the aerospace, defence, and security sectors. I attended to discuss cyber security and constituency issues and was on a table of civil servants, academics, industry representatives, an elected Police and Crime Commissioner and a Government Minister. Cyber Security is a growing issue and one which impacts everyone in Newcastle.
At the event were defence companies such as British Aerospace and BAE Systems. BAE Systems was until recently a major employer of skilled people at the Armstrong Works in Elswick and I spoke regularly to them and Reece Group, who reopened the site last year. It is part of my job as MP to be in contact with major employers whose decisions affect the livelihoods of my constituents. Those who I have met with will attest to the fact that I always speak my mind and act in the interests of the people of Newcastle Central.
For example, in past discussions with Reece Engineering, they have told me that they sell mine clearing equipment to the US Ministry of Defence but not the UK MoD. I would like to change that, as it would benefit people in Newcastle as well as those in our armed services who do good work clearing mines across the world. The North East sends a higher proportion of its young people into the armed forces than any other region in the country. I think they and their families have a right to expect that I as their MP work to ensure they have proper protection and support as they carry out a very difficult job.
The wider defence industry does include those that sell arms that are used to oppress and kill people all over the world. They need to be held to account for their actions and there needs to be more transparency and openness in the industry as a whole.
As part of my commitment to being open and transparent with the people that voted for me to represent them in Parliament, I publish all of my meetings and events that I attend each month on my website. Here are the people who were on my table. If there were arms dealers in the room I certainly did not meet them.
|Rt Hon Baroness||Neville-Jones||House of Commons|
|Prof. Chris||Hankin||Imperial College London|
|Chi||Onwurah MP||Cabinet Office|
|Shaun||Hipgrave||ADS Group Ltd|
|Nick||Alston CBE||Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex|
|Lord Mackenzie of||Framwellgate OBE LL.B|
|Stephen||Phipson CBE||Home Office|
|Paul||Gibson||Security in Complex Environments Group (SCEG)|
|Simon||Everest||UKTI Defence & Security Organisation|