It emerged yesterday that the UK government has been paying for the services of a firm of American lobbyists to drum up business for UK suppliers of defence equipment.
This organisation apparently holds sway within the US government and it has been argued that its influence could have knock-on benefits to buyers of defence equipment in the UK. A Ministry of Defence (MoD) official said the lobbyists not only helped generate work for UK vendors, but their specialist knowledge and influence was helping the MoD to purchase higher quality defence equipment at lower costs for the British armed forces.
That’s all well and good, but I thought the MoD passed this responsibility – promoting the export potential of UK defence manufacturers – to the UKTI Defence & Security Organisation back in 2008. So why are we paying someone else to do it?
UK taxpayers footing the bill for an additional contract to this seemingly “secretive” US firm got me thinking – exactly who should be responsible for trade and procurement? Is the benefit of helping UK buyers source and negotiate better contracts really justification for this kind of deal?