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Accomplished, versatile broadcaster Clare Balding was invited as the keynote speaker for the ADS Dinner, an annual black tie networking event, where arms company executives dine alongside senior civil servants, MPs and Ministers, who pay up to £470 a place.
Jamie Doward in the Observer adds information about ADS:
- it represents BAE Systems, who supply parts for the Typhoon and Tornado jets that are playing a role in the Saudi-led coalition bombing of Houthi insurgents in Yemen,
- Raytheon, whose UK-made Paveway IV bombs have been linked by Human Rights Watch to attacks on civilian infrastructure,
- MBDA, a missile company part-owned by BAE whose Brimstone and Storm Shadow missiles are being used by Saudi forces
- and Lockheed Martin, the largest arms company in the world, whose bombs were used by Saudi forces in the destruction of a school bus in which dozens of children were killed.
As Mahathir Mohammed pointed out at a the Kuala Lumpur World Peace Conference many years ago: “The media belonging to the countries selling the arms condemn these small countries for entering into an arms race and wasting money. They never condemn the high pressure salesman or the vast sums expended in the research and production of these weapons by the rich”.
Caroline Jones describes how Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) approached Balding’s representatives urging her to rethink her decision, pointing out that in 2016 she hosted the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal to help the people of Yemen and saying:
“It is clear why these companies want to be associated with positive causes, and why they want to work with respected personalities and role models. We respect and admire all of the excellent advocacy work that you do, which is why we are asking you to reconsider your attendance and cancel your speech.”
Clare decided not to attend.
And as usual (above), diners were greeted by Stop the Arms Fair activists reminding them of the role played by companies like BAE Systems in the death and oppression of people around the world, governments who support and subsidise them and the people who vote for them.
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People on ‘the inside track . . . wield privileged access and disproportionate influence’ according to the Parliamentary Public Administration Select Committee [PASC].
Lord John Hutton: a brief chronology
2008-9: Secretary of State for Defence
2010: Joined the board of US nuclear power company Hyperion Power
2011: Appointed Chair of the Nuclear Industries Association
2010- 2015, became Chairman of the Royal United Services Institute.
2014 -2018: was a defence advisor/consultant with US arms firm, Lockheed Martin
2017: Became chairman of Energy UK, a trade association for the GB energy industry with a membership of over 100 suppliers, generators, and stakeholders with a business interest in the production and supply of electricity and gas for domestic and business consumers
SMR: artist’s impression
2017: The UK SMR Consortium is the trade association for the GB energy industry. Moribund? Its website has only five news entries, all dated Sept 2017. Lord Hutton’s foreword to its 2017 report (cover below): “A UK SMR programme would support all ten ‘pillars’ of the Government’s Industrial Strategy, and assist in sustaining the skills required for the Royal Navy’s submarine programme.”
2018: A report by the Expert Finance Working Group (EFWG), convened by BEIS in January, recommended that: “For technologies capable of being commercially deployed by 2030, HMG should focus its resources on bringing First of a Kind (FOAK) projects to market by reducing the cost of capital and sharing risks through:
- assisting with the financing of small nuclear through a new infrastructure fund (seed funded by HMG) and/or direct equity and/or Government guarantees; and
- assisting with the financing of small nuclear projects through funding support mechanisms such as a Contract for Difference (CfD)/ Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or potentially a Regulated Asset Base (RAB) model while maintaining the supply chain plans required for larger low carbon projects”
2019: a July commitment to initial funding for SMRs is welcomed by the UK SMR Consortium (Rolls-Royce website)
“Our consortium warmly welcomes the Government’s decision to advance our new innovative small modular reactor programme. The government has today committed £18 million of initial funds to support the development of this power station as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, subject to final confirmation in early autumn. Our design will bolster the UK’s ambitions to tackle climate change”.
The next step? Final confirmation of taxpayers’ funding for the small modular reactor programme in early autumn.