I had an interesting conversation in the pub last night with a friend who spent his working life as a top engineer with the part of BAe Systems that used to be Ferranti. It started with Boris's Bloomers and strayed on to the morality of exporting arms to dictatorial or repressive regimes. Basically, his thesis could be summarised as follows: 1. Virtually all technological development is driven by innovation and invention in the defence industry. That innovation then percolates down into other spheres of engineering. 2. Without very substantial exports, the defence industry in the UK would simply not have the revenue to fund research and development. Our own defence requirements would come nowhere near the necessary level. 3. Without the research and innovation in our defence industry, all other sectors of our engineering and technology industries would become hopelessly out of date and uncompetitive in the world market and would, consequently, wither and die, causing mass unemployment and economic disaster. 4. Virtually all potential customers for our arms industry exports are what I described as dictatorial or oppressive regimes. Enlightened countries either have their own arms industry or don't have the wealth to buy our products. He countered my suggestion that I would much rather live in comparative poverty than continue funding war and genocide with two points: 1. Few of the British public would agree with me. 2. If Britain stopped supplying arms to such regimes, a competitor would immediately fill the gap and there would be no reduction in war and genocide. What do other forumites think?