Skip to main content

Royal Navy Surface Fleet

Volume 650: debated on Monday 26 November 2018

14. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the size of the Royal Navy surface fleet. (907811)

I suggest the hon. Member for Gloucester (Richard Graham) seeks to piggy-back on this question, as that will aid the efficiency of our proceedings.

In the 2015 strategic defence and security review and the national shipbuilding strategy, the Government committed to maintaining a surface fleet of 19 frigates and destroyers. HMS Queen Elizabeth, a powerful expression of national ambition and intent, is now in service and will be joined by new submarines, frigates and patrol vessels.

Are we not desperately short of coastal defence vessels at a time when our borders and restored fishing grounds will need to be policed properly for the long term? If we ordered new such ships from British shipbuilders, we would secure thousands of jobs for the domestic economy and restore the strength of our vital coastal defences.

The hon. Gentleman obviously missed the Secretary of State’s announcement this week that we will be keeping the three batch 1 offshore patrol vessels.

17. Does my right hon. Friend agree that there is a balance be struck between asserting our right to free passage in international waters and not unnecessarily aggravating strategic partners? Does he agree that the Royal Navy should bear that in mind carefully when planning ship routes through the South China sea? (907814)

My hon. Friend makes an important point. I would like to think that we do find that balance. We have made three passages through the South China sea in recent months, and we are absolutely right to exercise our freedom of navigation rights.