Dr Julian Lewis: In referring to the new frigates as cheap and cheerful, to use the Minister's phrase –

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Gerald Howarth): It was your phrase.

Dr Lewis: My phrase was "cheap as chips", actually. It upset the First Sea Lord of the day, although not too much. Will the Minister confirm that the reason why it is important and practicable to make the new frigates in that way is that modern methods of naval design enable the production of a ship that is modular? Therefore, we can produce a considerable number of hulls initially and then upgrade them with bolt-on modules as resources allow, rather than producing something expensive from the outset.

Mr Howarth: My hon. Friend, as ever, has latched on to an extremely important point. A big selling-point in my discussions with other nations about working in co-operation on the programme is that modular building design not only gives extraordinary flexibility, but is something in which we in the United Kingdom have a world lead. We did it with the Type 45s and we are doing it with carriers; we can do it with global combat ships as well. ...

[NOTE: For Julian's speech in this Debate, click here.]