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Volume 737: debated on Thursday 14 September 2023

My hon. Friend asks a timely question, because this is London International Shipping Week, and I have engaged with the UK Chamber of Shipping and Maritime UK. This week, I was at the International Maritime Organisation, which was hosting an exhibition called “Rewriting women into maritime history”, sponsored by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation—I mention in particular Nicola Good and Erne Janine, who made me this scarf reflecting on women in maritime. We are doing a huge amount, including launching the shipbuilding credit guarantee scheme to support our shipyards here in the UK.

I am most grateful to my hon. Friend for that answer. The disappointing outcome of last week’s contracts for difference auction in respect of offshore wind was a wake-up call that clear strategies are required if we are to retain our position as a global leader in that industry. That includes support for the supply chain, of which service operation vessels are a vital component. Can she confirm that the national shipbuilding strategy will be reviewed to fully take into account this great opportunity?

We are proud of the UK’s reputation as a leader in the offshore wind sector. Together with industry, we have delivered the four largest operational wind farms in the world. The National Shipbuilding Office has done a huge amount of work in that area and will do even more with the new shipbuilding guarantee scheme. I think my hon. Friend’s other question relates to the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero. This is London International Shipping Week, and our offshore wind farms and all our vessels are being promoted heavily.

May I draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that the three fleet solid support vessels for the Royal Navy are massive—equivalent to two aircraft carriers? Has she discussed with the Ministry of Defence why they will be built mostly in Spanish shipyards, rather than in British shipyards by British workers to sustain our shipbuilding industry? Does she know of any other shipbuilding country that behaves like this?

I have indeed discussed it with the Ministry of Defence and the National Shipbuilding Office. We want to make sure not only that the contracts for the work are managed here in the UK, but that we are using UK steel.