[Several hon. Members rose –
Mr Speaker: Ah yes, the good doctor – the Chair of the Select Committee no less: Dr Julian Lewis.]
Dr Julian Lewis: Do Ministers accept that the Type 31 general purpose frigates are the only chance we will have for a generation to raise the number of escorts from the pathetic total of 19 back to the sort of figures we used to have when we really had an ocean-going Navy with enough escorts to protect it? Will the Minister therefore ensure that the design of these frigates is chosen to be of the most economical nature? All the bells and whistles can be added later but the maximum number of hulls must be commissioned.
[The Secretary of State for Defence (Sir Michael Fallon): I say to the Chairman of the Committee that we have some 29 ships serving on the seven seas around the world at the moment, and I am sure that that has his support. He makes a very good point about the exportability of the Type 31 frigate, and our ambition to raise the number of frigates and destroyers above the current 19.]