DEFENCE – BAY CLASS SHIPS – 6 December 2010

Dr Julian Lewis: I am extremely surprised and alarmed at the suggestion that one of the Bay class ships might be disposed of. Those ships are brand new and have enormous military value, so much so that the Royal Navy has cast covetous eyes on them in the past, thinking that they ought to be fully RN-manned. Is the hon. Gentleman absolutely certain that there is a suggestion that Largs Bay might be disposed of so early in its service life?

[John McDonnell: I can only refer the hon. Gentleman to the memorandum from Commodore Bill Walworth, who is responsible for the RFA, which specifically names those ships. I think that it is now in the public domain as a result of reports in Lloyd's List. We will know the situation more clearly by April 2011, but those ships have been identified. I agree with the hon. Gentleman that it is worrying that a relatively new craft is concerned.]

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Dr Lewis: I fully appreciate the financial hole in which the Government find themselves, but surely it is a false economy when money has been spent on brand-new vessels such as the Bay class even to think of disposing of them at such an early stage of their lives.