DEFENCE – AIRCRAFT CARRIERS – 6 November 2013
Dr Julian Lewis: Despite the Defence Secretary’s criticism of the contracts, does he accept that the restoration of carrier strike capability to the fleet is an absolute strategic necessity, and does he also accept that one reason for the loss of Portsmouth as a shipbuilder is that the last Government reduced the total number of frigates and destroyers from 35 to 19 – and, regrettably, this Government have done nothing to reverse that?
[The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Philip Hammond): My hon. Friend is factually correct: the last Government did, indeed, reduce the total number of destroyers to be built in the Type 45 programme, largely because of the hole that was opening up in the aircraft carrier budget due to the delay in the project that I mentioned earlier. He is right, too, that we can talk all day about the history of the placing of the order for these two very large ships – the largest ships the Royal Navy will ever have had – but the fact is that we are getting them: they are being built, and we are proud of them and we are going to make excellent use of them in projecting UK naval maritime power around the world.]