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Shipbuilding/Type 31e Frigate

Volume 630: debated on Monday 23 October 2017

4. What progress he has made on implementing the national shipbuilding strategy and on procuring the Type 31e frigate. (901303)

16. What progress he has made on implementing the national shipbuilding strategy and on procuring the Type 31e frigate. (901315)

We published our national shipbuilding strategy in September. The very next day, we launched the programme for five new Type 31e frigates. We are currently considering at least 20 different proposals from industry across the UK.

I thank the Minister for her response. It is fantastic news that the national shipbuilding strategy will benefit the whole United Kingdom. Cornwall has a long and proud history with the sea. HMS Cornwall was decommissioned in June 2011. I urge her to take a bid from Cornwall to put, once again, Cornwall back on the waves.

My hon. Friend is an absolute champion for his county of Cornwall. He will be aware that we have started to announce the names of the Type 26 frigates with HMS Glasgow and HMS Belfast. Further names will be announced in due course. The Type 31e frigate will be named by the Royal Navy Ships Names and Badges Committee, and he has set out his claim today.

The strategy announced by the Secretary of State will provide many opportunities for the supply chain, including for companies such as GE Energy in my constituency, which is currently working on the first batch of the Type 26—the global combat ship. Will the Minister say something about the timetable for the second batch of those vessels?

My hon. Friend highlights the importance of the supply chain right across the UK and the fact that, in a relatively landlocked part of the UK, so much work is pouring in from the frigate programme. We announced a £3.7 billion first batch of Type 26 frigates. We will be securing the necessary approvals to carry on negotiations for that contract and we will announce the second batch of five frigates early in the 2020s.

14. Despite the challenges facing the UK steel industry, too many of the offshore patrol vessels used by the Royal Navy are being built with foreign steel. Can the Minister assure us that, as part of the national shipbuilding strategy, British steel will be put first when building new vessels? (901313)

I am delighted to let the House know that UK steel was represented at the first of the industry days that we held for the Type 31e frigate at the end of September. Its involvement at that very early stage ensures that it has the best chance of winning these competitions.

How does the Minister respond to suggestions from trade unions on the Clyde that the promises made to them have been broken by the Ministry of Defence, and will the Government change their illogical decision to put three fleet support ships out to international competition? Should they not be built in the UK, too?

Well, honestly, every time I talk about our wonderful programme of shipbuilding in the UK, I hear nothing but doom and gloom from our friends on the Scottish nationalist Benches. In fact—and no one would believe this—there are currently 15 ships being built in Scotland, including the second of the two new aircraft carriers, two decades-worth of work on the frigate programme and five new offshore patrol vessels. Frankly, I do not know what I could do to keep these gentlemen and ladies happy.