The UK has always been and will always be a tier 1 military power, supported by a world-class defence industry. Last year, we spent £18.7 billion with UK industry and commerce, directly supporting 123,000 jobs throughout the United Kingdom. Through the modernising defence programme we are considering how to grow even further the already substantial contribution that defence makes to UK prosperity.
Does the Minister agree that the excellent news of the BAE Systems contract to sell Type 26 frigates to Australia has come about in part because our Royal Navy has decided to buy them, and the rest of the world knows that, as a tier 1 military nation, we buy the best and most advanced equipment?
My hon. Friend makes an important point. Quite clearly the capability of the Type 26 was understood and appreciated by our Australian counterparts, but the key element was the fact that the Royal Navy is committed to this platform as our future anti-submarine warfare frigate. There is no doubt that my hon. Friend is absolutely right that when the Royal Navy shows confidence in a piece of equipment, the rest of the world takes note.
Well, I thank the hon. Lady for her question. It is important to understand that tier 1 is shorthand for the fact that we are a country that can reach globally in terms of our military capabilities. That has always been the case for the United Kingdom, and it shall remain the case for the United Kingdom under this Government.