Feeds

Drayson back at MoD, retains biznovation portfolio

'Malodorous' supersonic-car lord returns

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

Controversial former military equipment purchasing boss Lord Drayson has been made a Defence minister once again. Details of his portfolio have yet to be announced, but Drayson will outrank the current equipment minister - and will retain a position at the new department of "Business, Innovation and Skills".

According to the Number 10 Downing Street website, Drayson returns to the MoD at "Minister of State" grade, making him senior to the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) minister Quentin Davies, who is only an Under Secretary of State.

Drayson originally entered government in 2005 following his elevation from the common herd to the peerage. One Labour lord refused to share a bench with him at the time, saying his ennoblement was "malodorous".

As DE&S chief, Drayson was regarded as a staunch defender of the interests of the UK arms industry. He authored the Defence Industrial Strategy (DIS), effectively a guarantee of continued existence for large parts of the UK arms sector, and followed a policy of ordering British-made equipment wherever possible.

James Arbuthnot, Tory MP, current chairman of the parliamentary defence committee and former MoD procurement minister himself, said in 2006 that Drayson had "made a favourable impression... he has given a strong impression of knowing industry, being prepared to listen to industry... He has been among industry and has listened to it."

In particular, Drayson ordered the controversial £1bn Future Lynx purchase that year, buying upgraded Lynx helicopters from British-Italian firm AgustaWestland. The Future Lynxes are to arrive from 2011.

Critics suggested that Drayson could have ordered larger and more powerful Blackhawk and Seahawk helicopters from Sikorsky instead, got them sooner - perhaps saving lives among UK forces - and spent less money to boot. The AgustaWestland deal, however, safeguarded an estimated 900 jobs in the UK. The deal was also defended on the grounds that it would reduce UK military dependence on foreign suppliers: though in fact the Future Lynx has American engines and also requires significant support from Italy.

Drayson's previous business career was also the subject of some debate. The company which made him rich, Powderject, has been the subject of some question as to whether the vaccines it sold actually worked: and the eponymous needle-free injection device never actually appeared.

In 2007, Drayson resigned his position at the MoD, stating that he wanted to spend more time racing his biofuelled car at Le Mans. This was widely disbelieved, however, with rumour suggesting that he had in fact quit over successful moves by the Army to resist his plans for their armoured-vehicles project (the Future Rapid Effects System, FRES).

Drayson would have used the £14bn FRES budget to revitalise the moribund British tank industry: the Army preferred to avoid reinvention of American wheels, and wished instead to simply buy a vehicle from General Dynamics.

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?
Rent control: Better than bombs at destroying housing
Top beak: UK privacy law may be reconsidered because of social media
Rise of Twitter etc creates 'enormous challenges'
GCHQ protesters stick it to British spooks ... by drinking urine
Activists told NOT to snap pics of staff at the concrete doughnut
What do you mean, I have to POST a PHYSICAL CHEQUE to get my gun licence?
Stop bitching about firearms fees - we need computerisation
Ex US cybersecurity czar guilty in child sex abuse website case
Health and Human Services IT security chief headed online to share vile images
We need less U.S. in our WWW – Euro digital chief Steelie Neelie
EC moves to shift status quo at Internet Governance Forum
Oz biz regulator discovers shared servers in EPIC FACEPALM
'Not aware' that one IP can hold more than one Website
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.