Diary - doing business with the MOD

With shops now open, and with today's news that pubs, restaurants, hotels and hairdressers can open from 4 July in England, I headed to Weymouth in the morning to meet some retailers and get a feel about how they were faring. Very generously, and at short notice, I was joined by Craig Oakes, President of the Weymouth & Portland Chamber of Commerce, and the delightful Claudia Moore, Chief Operations Officer for Weymouth BID. We met several retailers and the feedback was informative. There is no doubt that the huge increase in on-line business will affect the traditional high street and ways must be explored to mitigate this as far as possible. We all agreed that the harbour was the perfect magnet to attract people into town and more should be made of it. The news that social distancing is to be reduced to one metre has been universally welcomed, too. This will give the hospitality sector a chance to recover. And today was the last daily Downing Street briefing, to be replaced by televised briefings as and when necessary. This makes sense. At 1400, I dialled into our next Defence Select Committee, which this time was examining the challenges of doing business with the MoD from an industry perspective. It also explored the implications of Covid-19 for defence industry and the attractiveness of the UK defence market for investment. We took evidence in two sessions with three distinguished guests in each. They were Nigel Whitehead, who was appointed Director External Relations of BAE Systems plc on 1 January 2020. He has responsibility for co-ordinating the BAE Systems relationship with the UK Government Crown Representative. In addition, Nigel works closely with ‘Be the Business’, the business-led organisation that is focused on addressing the national productivity challenge. Within BAE Systems, he leads the independent review process for the next generation of combat aircraft. Peter Ruddock CB CBE FRAeS, is the Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin UK, a role he started in January 2016. Mr Ruddock represents Lockheed Martin at the Defence Suppliers Forum and on the Defence Growth Partnership Steering Committee. Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, he successfully completed fifteen different appointments in the Royal Air Force before leaving the Service, as an Air Marshal (3-star), in March 2011. Avril Jolliffe is the Director Strategic Business Development, Thales, following a 15-year career working as a civil servant in the Ministry of Defence, Avril joined Thales in 2011 to support the development of closer UK-FR industrial co-operation through the 2010 Lancaster House Treaty. From 2015, she took on the role of Head of Policy and International Relations, representing Thales UK on all aspects of senior Government policy making and understanding the UK’s strategic international relations position. Our second panel consisted of Paul Everitt, the Chief Executive of ADS, the UK trade organisation for the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors. Paul joined ADS in February 2013 and was previously Chief Executive of SMMT, the trade association for the UK motor industry. Andrew Kinniburgh is Director General at NDI, Make UK's defence and security trade association. Finally, Michael Formosa is a managing partner of Renaissance Strategic Advisors, an aerospace, defence and security consultancy specialising in assisting clients address their most complex and critical issues. As managing director of Renaissance’s London office, he is responsible for business operations outside the United States. The session was in public and can be found on Hansard. Finally, Home Secretary Priti Patel has said that the recommendations of a review into the Windrush scandal will be implemented in full.