DEFENCE (FRONT BENCH) – WARSHIP CUTS – 8 September 2003

Dr Julian Lewis: The Secretary of State says that it is outdated to count platforms, yet he must be aware that the First Sea Lord has expressed concern that the 32 frigates and destroyers that he currently has available may not be enough for the tasks in hand. Will the Secretary of State give the House an assurance today that he has no plans to cut further the numbers of frigates, destroyers or submarines? If he will not give that assurance, will he tell us by how many he intends to cut those classes of vessel? If he does not want to answer directly, will he undertake to brief the MOD press office to give the right answer to any journalist who comes up with the right numbers?