Since 2015, we have published a national shipbuilding strategy, refreshed defence industrial policy to help strengthen UK competitiveness and launched the future combat air strategy. We engage with global primes to create opportunities for all tiers of the UK supply chain.
In the light of the Ministry of Defence decision to open up the procurement process for the fleet solid support ships to international competition, will the Minister explain what weighting will be placed on national prosperity in awarding those contracts?
The one thing we are clear about is that we are constrained in that process because the fleet solid support ships are not warships; they are not frigates, destroyers or indeed aircraft carriers. However, I can reassure the right hon. Gentleman that that competition will be judged not solely on price but also on various other factors, and I am delighted that a UK consortium will be bidding.
Order. As we are constrained for time, I advise the hon. Member for Bolton West (Chris Green) that his inquiry on missile defence capability can be shoehorned into the current inquiry.
My hon. Friend is absolutely right, and he is also absolutely right to cite his constituency company as a fine example of how we can continue to compete on the world stage.
First, may I thank you, Mr Speaker, for your kind words about our former colleague Paul Flynn, who was a great comrade over the years?
Following on from the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr Jones), why does the Minister not defer any action until after 29 March, when we will not be under EU procurement rules and we can award this ship—a £1 billion British taxpayers’ order—to a British shipyard?
The hon. Gentleman seems to have a crystal ball—I simply do not—to see exactly what the situation will be post 29 March.