12th February

No Hard Feelings

CHAIRMAN: Lord Humbelby, may I conclude this session by asking you a more personal question? We are all familiar, of course, with the term ‘military-industrial complex’. There is sometimes a rather negative perception in the popular imagination of the relationship between arms manufacturers and the armed forces, and of course governments. Does that bother you? After all, your entire career has been in the defence industry.

WITNESS: Actually I suspect the popular imagination of which you speak is quite relaxed about that relationship. Do not forget that the defence industry employs many thousands of people, often in highly skilled jobs, and earns this country billions of pounds in exports. As for the armed forces, well, they are held in the highest public esteem.

CHAIRMAN: We don’t forget any of that, Lord Humbelby. We are acutely aware of it. And I agree that in addition to appreciating the jobs and earnings that companies such as yours provide, the people of this country have a very strong sense of national pride. Nobody in their right mind could deny that this country punches well above its weight in the world, and that that is a good thing. That it should do so in a decent and principled way is what this committee exists to ensure. We may have had our differences of opinion with you in the past, but not on a matter as fundamental as this. Which is why I asked the question.

WITNESS: What was the question again?

CHAIRMAN: Does it upset you that the so-called ‘industrial-military complex’ is sometimes regarded negatively?


CHAIRMAN: It would upset us if it upset you.

WITNESS: It doesn’t upset me in the slightest.

CHAIRMAN: Your feelings aren’t hurt?

WITNESS: Not a bit.

CHAIRMAN: Well, that is a relief to us all. Lord Humbelby, for some years now we have benefited from the wisdom of your experience whenever you have come before us, and I would like the record to show that this commit- tee is grateful for the insights into the workings of the defence industry that your expert evidence has given us.

WITNESS: As I think I may have said on a previous occasion, you are very welcome.

Reader: Tam Dean Burn
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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