Daily Telegraph – 29 October 2005

In 1998, the then First Sea Lord expressed concern at the proposed reduction of attack submarines from 12 to 10, and of destroyers and frigates from 35 to 32. These cuts were accepted as part of an overall package promising two giant aircraft carriers at the heart of the Fleet by 2012 and 2015 respectively.

What happened next? The number of destroyers and frigates was covertly cut [to 31], then overtly slashed, to 25, while the number of attack submarines is being further reduced to eight – or in effect, just seven [until the first of the delayed Astute class is finally commissioned]. This at a time halfway through the 14-year period between the announcement that the carriers were to be built and their original in-service date, without the order for their construction having yet been placed.

Does the Government think that the threats we now face in the Middle East and elsewhere have diminished rather than increased in the past seven years?

In reality, the pressure on the Royal Navy mirrors that on the Services as a whole: a requirement to do more and more with fewer and fewer resources.

Shadow Defence Minister
House of Commons
London SW1