Justin Tomlinson MP

Justin Tomlinson MP

MP For North Swindon

Swindon Advertiser Column - Exciting First Week As Minister

In Parliament, it has been an exciting first full week in my new role as the Minister of State for Energy Security and Net Zero. Following my return to the Despatch Box for my Department’s Parliamentary Questions, I have now finished my first Select Committee, signed an Energy Transition Action Plan with my Columbian counterpart, and delivered a speech on our forthcoming Strategic Spatial Energy Plan. Shortly after writing this column, I will be heading to Berlin to represent the UK at a pre-COP 29 meeting on international finance. I have also enjoyed meeting lots of Swindon businesses that are connected to this brief. It is great to know that Swindon is at the heart of the exciting innovation and future technologies that will be key to both delivering Net Zero and crucially lowering energy bills for households and businesses.

Locally, it was a real pleasure to meet Simon Russell, the new CEO of the Wiltshire FA. As a passionate football fan since childhood, I was delighted to discuss issues affecting football at a local level, as well as how we can maximise opportunities to get more people involved in the sport. We both recognise the wider benefits of getting young people to be active and engaged.

I will continue to be a passionate advocate for local clubs, whether with funding opportunities or wider support, and I am delighted to see so many grassroots, local clubs securing new facilities and pitches to both grow and increase participation. All this is only possible because of the fantastic dedication of the volunteers who make all the difference, in all weathers!

I was also invited to meet with the senior team at Vygon, a leading medical device company based in the iconic former Motorola building. It was great to discuss their plans for both the site and their business. As a nice link to my new Ministerial role, it was encouraging to see how they have directly benefitted from investing in significant renewable energy onsite. I was also impressed with their commitment to supporting the wider community and local charities.

Finally, this week saw an announcement by the PM that the UK will increase defence spending to 2.5 per cent of GDP by 2030 - the biggest strengthening of our national defence for a generation. This comes as part of the government’s long-term plan to strengthen our national security at home and abroad.

There are three areas of focus for our bolstered defence budget. Firstly, an additional £10 billion will be provided over the next decade on munitions production, ensuring that we have rapid production capacity and stockpiles of next-generation munitions. Secondly, we will modernise our Armed Forces. This will be done by reforming defence procurement, creating a new Defence Innovation Agency and by dedicating at least 5% of the defence budget on Research & Development. Thirdly, we will continue to back Ukraine’s defence. Ukraine’s safety and security is directly linked to our safety and security. As such, we will commit an additional £500 million this year for the ammunition, air defence and drones Ukraine needs.

Sadly, we are seeing an increasingly dangerous and unstable world. By investing in our national security, we will ensure that we secure our place as the largest defence power in Europe and will remain - by far - the second largest defence spender in NATO after the US.

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