SCORING the winning try for Wales against England on his debut is the only thing Guto Bebb would prefer to his newest job in government.

The Aberconwy MP was appointed Minister for Defence Procurement in the recent government reshuffle.

He said in an exclusive interview with the Pioneer: “Being Minister for Defence Procurement is the best thing I could do short of scoring the winning try.”

This reflection was said with great feeling, and he should know being the nephew of the legendary Welsh and British Lions winger Dewi Bebb, who scored 11 tries for Wales.

His prime responsibility will now be to ensure the armed forces are properly equipped: broadly with everything from bootlaces to bombs.

In relating his reactions on being appointed to the job, he said: “When the phone call came it wasn’t a position I had anticipated being offered, but I accepted immediately because I was aware of the challenges facing the Ministry of Defence having being the lead in The Wales Office on defence issues. So I had a degree of understanding of the challenges lying ahead.

“Even so the learning curve is steep and the key thing is to ensure I have a continuing balance between the work expected of me as a constituency MP and the new and very demanding role that I have in the MOD.”

He plans to reserve Fridays for the constituency, limiting his commitment to the MOD to the remainder of the week.

“Looking at the defence issues which have an impact upon North Wales, there is a relatively large defence sector here.

“I know there are constituents living in Aberconwy who work in the sector, as an example there is the Defence Electronics and Components Agency at Sealand, which has recently won a European wide contract to support the new F35 fighter aircraft.

“We also have Qioptiq in St Asaph which has recently won a very large MOD project.”

Commenting on the training defence companies in North Wales undertake, he stated: “There are fantastic apprenticeship schemes in many of those companies, I saw a great example at RAF Valley, where the nature and scope of the apprenticeships operated there by Grwp Llandrillo Menai is inspiring.”

Outlining the scale and scope of the job, he stated: “The MOD has one of the largest budgets in government, one which is protected and which will increase by half a per cent above inflation throughout the life of this parliament.

“The challenge for every single department, the MOD in particular, is that we have to deliver enhanced capability, and quite often that enhanced capability has to be delivered at a lower cost. This is something our partners in industry know and understand full well, “

He cited as an example the Type 31 frigate procurement competition for the Royal Navy as an example of the MOD going out to the market and asking it to produce competitive bids.

He stated that if it can do this he saw the potential for exports as a number of navies around the world are expanding.

He said: “The fact is we have a number of consortia which are interested, which tells us that it can be done.

“In terms of scale, the National Equipment Plan envisages spending approximately £180 billion over the next 10 years on kit, the majority of which will go across my desk while I am in this position.

“We are trying to ensure the armed forces have the capability to reflect the challenges of the 21st century, which are changing and changing very quickly.

“In addition we have to deliver efficiencies within the system to ensure the equipment and the support our forces need is delivered.

“We also have to ensure we manage the budget in a manner which does not impact upon the quality or the extent of the support we offer our forces.

“I feel honoured to be offered the position, it carries a degree of responsibility, which when I think about in the cold light of day, makes me feel almost humbled.

“But the one thing that really does inspire confidence is the commitment and passion of the sailors, soldiers and airmen have for what they are doing, and just as importantly the enthusiasm they have for the equipment we are currently providing them with.

“Even so I’d still like to score the winning try for Wales!”