Christian peace campaigners staged demonstrations at last week's Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire. Representatives from Pax Christi and Christian CND stood alongside members of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade throughout the week. Yesterday (Sunday) a group held an 'alternative airshow' outside the front gate at Farnborough The biannual show, organised by the Society of British Aerospace Companies, was the largest ever, spokeswoman Amanda Stainer said. Tickets sold out eight months before the opening date. Although for many visitors the show is simply a fun day out, with acrobatic flying displays and exhibitions of civil, military and private planes and military hardware, it is primarily a business event. The local community is said to make seven million pounds from the show. This figure is dwarfed by the multi-billion pound sales to governments and companies around the world that result from the show. At the last show in 1998, orders worth 15 billion pounds were announced. There were 1,325 exhibitors from 32 countries. There were 170,000 trade visitors, up from 130,000 in 1996. Bruce Kent, speaking on behalf of Pax Christi, said: "The arms trade is one of the scandals of the British economy. A large number of people depend on work in the arms trade. It is high time the government got the Defence Diversification Agency (DDA) moving, so that those in 'defence' employment can move to more constructive work." In 1998, the establishment of the DDA - to assist the transfer of arms production to the manufacture of civilian products - was welcomed by peace campaigners. However, the agency was based at the Ministry of Defence Evaluation and Research Agency and its remit was 'to encourage greater two-way technology transfer between military and civilian sectors': this was far from what had been hoped for. Its budget is also tiny - being just 1.5 million pounds. An Early Day Motion (181), supported by peace campaigners, is calling on the secretary for trade and industry to take the DDA into his department, increase its budget and begin the move from military to civilian production in earnest.
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