DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – WARSHIP ORDERS – 26 March 2007

Dr Julian Lewis: Most of the 29 ships that have joined the fleet since this Government came into office were ordered under the previous Conservative Government. Is it not a fact that in the past five years the only warship order has been for a single, solitary offshore patrol vessel? When the order for the carriers eventually, and belatedly, comes through, will the Minister guarantee that it will not be used as cover for the cancellation of the seventh and eighth Type 45 destroyers, which the Navy says it needs to ensure that the carrier taskforces are properly protected?

[The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr Adam Ingram): As has been said many times from the Dispatch Box by previous Administrations as well as this one, there is a continuum in the defence of this country. It does not surprise me that ships that have been commissioned in the past 10 years were ordered in previous periods. The important aspect is that those orders were carried out because it was acknowledged that it is important to maintain the strength of the Royal Navy. On top of that, there is a projected £14 billion capital programme for the Royal Navy in the next decade. That includes carriers, Type 45s and other vessels for the Royal Navy. At the end of that, it will be a formidable Navy.]