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Volume 474: debated on Monday 31 March 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) what the procedures are for deciding the basis on which (a) new classes of warship and (b) individual warships are named; (197536)

(2) if he will make it his policy to recommend that the Future Surface Combatant flotilla should consist of warships named after escort vessels with distinguished records of service in the two world wars;

(3) if he will make an assessment of the impact on the (a) continuity of naval tradition and (b) motivation of ships' companies of naming warships after predecessors with past battle honours.

The Ships Names and Badges Committee has the task of assessing all the possible names for new ships before making their recommendations through the First Sea Lord and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence for final approval by Her Majesty the Queen.

A new class of Royal Navy warships will have a theme as advised by the First Sea Lord in consultation with the Controller of the Navy. Names of individual ships will be informed by a number of guiding principles including: names associated with a long and illustrious heritage, tradition, Battle Honours and names classically associated with a type of vessel.

The Future Surface Combatant is in the early stages of concept design and a theme for the names will not be considered for some time. Nothing is being ruled out at this stage and names of escort warships with distinguished records of service in the two world wars would fall within the guiding principles for naming Royal Navy warships and will be considered.

Naval tradition is intrinsic to the values of the Royal Navy and this extends to the naming of its warships. The naming of Royal Navy warships associated with an illustrious heritage instils a sense of pride, tradition and esteem in today's Royal Navy personnel.