New Forest East


Dr Julian Lewis: Does the Leader of the House recall that the Government's 1998 strategic defence review recommended small cuts in the number of frigates and destroyers and the construction of two large aircraft carriers? Given that seven years have since gone by and large cuts have been made in the number of frigates and destroyers, but there is no sign yet of the order even being placed for the first of those aircraft carriers, may we have an urgent statement from a defence Minister on when that order will be placed, given that it is only another seven years before the first of those carriers is due to enter service?

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Geoffrey Hoon): I fondly imagined that my change of position after the general election would relieve me of the pleasurable responsibility of responding to the hon. Gentleman on defence matters. I am delighted that he has continued to haunt me with these issues, and I assure him that there has been no change in the Government's position in respect of the commitment made in the 1998 strategic defence review to acquire two large aircraft carriers. He will understand that it takes a little longer to build those carriers in reality than may have been the case when he used to build their Airfix equivalents.]