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HMS Illustrious

Volume 525: debated on Monday 14 March 2011

18. What assessment he has made of the likely date for HMS Illustrious to return to service; and if he will make a statement. (45713)

HMS Illustrious is scheduled to return to operational service, to assume her new landing platform helicopter role, in spring 2012. I should add that she has had 180 days’ notice to move, and that that period can be reduced, should the need arise. She will be supplementing the capability provided by HMS Ocean.

I am sure the House will agree that the fact that HMS Illustrious is coming back into service ahead of schedule is a testament to the professionalism of the work force and the management, led by Mike Pettigrew. Will the Minister find the time to come to the dockyard to see HMS Illustrious before she sets sail, so that he can see yet again why the best place for the refit and refurbishment of the Queen Elizabeth class carriers is Scotland, rather than France?

Although it is far too early to decide where that work will be conducted, I would be delighted to try to accommodate such a visit in my diary, if that proves possible. The hon. Gentleman’s constituents have certainly done a first-rate job.