CONSERVATIVE
New Forest East

BUSINESS QUESTION – AIRCRAFT CARRIERS – 22 March 2007

Dr Julian Lewis: I am sure that the whole House shares my sense of shock at the loss of two Royal Navy submariners on HMS Tireless.

Although the Leader of the House did not refer to an upcoming statement on what we hope will be happy news about the ordering, at long last, of the two aircraft carriers, if and when such a statement is forthcoming will he seek to ensure that it is in sufficiently broad terms to allow us to consider also the future size of the Type 45 frigate force and the Astute submarine force, which will be part and parcel of any fleet package centred on the new aircraft carriers?

[The Leader of the House of Commons (Mr Jack Straw):  I am sure that the hon. Gentleman speaks for the whole House in expressing his condolences for the loss of those two brave sailors who were killed. We send our sympathy to their families and colleagues. Those of us who have been on board submarines know what a potentially dangerous environment it is, and the safety record of the Royal Navy overall is second to none.

I can tell the hon. Gentleman that Defence questions will take place on Monday, and also that we are planning a day's debate on defence towards the end of April.]