I have today published Sir John Parker’s review of the implementation of the National Shipbuilding strategy. I am very grateful for Sir John’s efforts in producing this review and are delighted that he has identified so much positive progress. Sir John noted how Defence has embraced the strategy with enthusiasm and evident cultural change. A copy of the review has been placed in the Library of the House and it is available on www.gov.uk.
To build on the success and progress we have made so far, this Government are committed to reinvigorating British shipbuilding industry for both the civil and military sectors and investing in the next generation to ensure a pipeline of skills for the future. That is why the Prime Minister has appointed me to act as the Shipbuilding Tsar on behalf of this Government, to better realise the potential that this sector can offer across the four Home Nations and to reinvigorate UK shipbuilding. This role brings together other Government Departments to shape policies and strategies. As Shipbuilding Tsar, I will work closely with my colleagues across Government to bring together the brilliant work already being done, and to ensure British shipbuilding thrives.
A significant success already delivered by this key strategy and Sir John’s recommendations is the Type 31 preferred bidder announcement to Babcock with contract award due by the end of the year. This major milestone demonstrates a transformation in the way this Department can deliver a rigorous warship acquisition programme securing the best capability for our armed forces and extraordinary value for money for the taxpayer. It is an exemplar of what Sir John Parker envisaged and has shown that the MOD can deliver contracts with a grip on content, specification, design and pace.
Sir John also acknowledged the impressive export success of the Type 26 which has already been selected as the baseline design to deliver nine Hunter class frigates for the Royal Australian Navy and up to 15 Canadian Surface Combatants for the Royal Canadian Navy. We will continue to build on this success and work alongside the Department for International Trade to deliver a competitive naval export plan. This will identify and strengthen opportunities for British shipbuilding and the wider supply chain.
Across Government, a huge amount of work is under way to review the pace and nature of the forward warship programme and to understand the skills needed to design and deliver these ships and their systems. We are already working collaboratively with industry to align these priorities and ensure we maintain the industrial base required to deliver future capability and platforms for our armed forces.