Dr Julian Lewis: The Minister will remember that previous shipbuilding projects, in particular the carriers and the Type 45 destroyers, ended ​up being much more expensive because of delays. Does he accept that BAE Systems is ready to start cutting steel on the Type 26 programme relatively soon and that delays will cause our total number of warships to dip and the ones we eventually get to be more expensive?

[The Minister for Defence Procurement (Mr Philip Dunne): I say to my right hon. Friend, who is knowledgeable about these matters, that this will be one of the largest defence programmes that this Government will enter. I am sure that he will agree that it is absolutely right to enter into a contract once we are confident of the delivery schedule and the ability of the contractors to meet that schedule on a cost-effective basis. Once we are in that position, we will be ready to contract.]