Dr Julian Lewis: Is it not a fact that BAE Systems is ready to start cutting steel right now, and all that is holding things up is a lack of funds in the MOD’s budget? If we do not start building these ships on time, we will doubtless end up with the same old story: we will drop below the already inadequate total of 19 frigates and destroyers, or else we will have to pay a lot more money to keep old ships in service for longer than they should be kept in service.
[The Secretary of State for Defence (Michael Fallon): Let me reassure my right hon. Friend. We have already invested more than £1.8 billion in the Type 26 ship, and I announced a further £183 million in July for the guns to go on the ship. Much of the design work has been completed, but I am not prepared to sign a contract with BAE Systems until I am absolutely persuaded that it is in the best interests of the taxpayer and, indeed, the Navy, giving value for money to both.]