DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – NAVAL BASE REVIEW – 18 June 2007
Dr Julian Lewis: Is not the real reason why the naval base review has been undertaken at all the fact that the Government have slashed the size of the surface fleet, and the admirals fear that if they do not reduce their base capacity another six frigates and destroyers will go, on top of the 10 already lost? Does the Secretary of State [Des Browne] at least accept that over the very long term, the sort of threats that we face may change and any reduction in naval base capacity should be reversible, whereas the closure of either Portsmouth or Devonport would be irreversible? Is not the answer flexibility, rather than closure?
[The Secretary of State for Defence (Des Browne): Like the previous Government, who reduced the size of the Royal Navy significantly because of the review that they undertook, the Government have made sure that the Navy's capabilities reflect our assessment of the threats that we face and those that we are likely face, as well as the comprehensive review that took place at the beginning of our term of office. I am satisfied that we have a Navy that is fit for the strategic circumstances in which we live. The Navy is doing more across the world than it ever did before, and as we will no doubt hear in response to questions if we come to them during this Question Time, it can look forward to being equipped over the next 10 or 20 years with the best modern ships that the world has seen.]