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National Flagship: Procurement

Volume 698: debated on Monday 5 July 2021

Whether the procurement costs for the proposed national flagship will be drawn from his Department’s existing budget allocation. (902173)

The capital costs of building the national flagship would accrue over a number of years and will be met from the defence budget.

That is very interesting. I am not sure whether I should be asking this question of the Minister rather than the Prime Minister. Can he explain, then, what else in the defence budget will give to pay the £200 million that the Prime Minister announced, which I think he sprung not just on the nation but the Ministry of Defence?

We are delighted to be playing our part in delivering this first-rate asset, which will be a tremendous boost to the UK and global Britain. We should recognise that we will have greater clarity on the costs and the profile of that when we have completed our market engagement. The prior information notice has just gone out. To put it in a helpful context for the right hon. Gentleman, over four years we are talking about an impact on the overall defence budget in the region of 0.1%. I would like to put that into perspective for him.

With the National Audit Office having judged the defence equipment plan to be “unaffordable” for the fourth year in a row, the continuing well-publicised disaster and rising cost of the Ajax project, and the cancellation of Warrior, can the Minister explain why this vanity project has become a spending priority for the Ministry of Defence?

I am delighted to help the hon. Gentleman on a few points. First, on the NAO report to which he refers, I believe that was done on the old numbers prior to a very fulsome provision to the Ministry of Defence of £24 billion being spent from the current levels. That has helped us to ensure that we can deliver the right priorities for this country in the future. On Ajax. I am pleased to reassure him that that is a firm price contract. As to Warrior, that is one example of the tough decisions we make to ensure that the budget comes in on balance, and we will continue to do so. That is the target of the Secretary of State and myself. We will continue to work on that and address all the priorities of the Ministry of Defence.