"Front Line First"
Mr John Hutton (Barrow and Furness)
I welcome the Secretary of State's announcement of replacements for HMS Fearless and HMS Intrepid, and also his statement that tenders will be invited for new batch 2 Trafalgar class submarines. Both announcements will be welcomed in my constituency.
Will the right hon. and learned Gentleman look again specifically at the contract for the batch 2 Trafalgars? Will he make it clear that his policy is to maintain 16 SSNs in the Royal Navy? If that is the case, why does the contract for the batch 2 Trafalgars specify an original order for five, and not the three plus two which I understand was the Government's proposal?
May I also ask about the armed forces medical services? On what basis does the Secretary of State classify the medical services as support services, and not as part of the front line? How many of the 1,600 doctors and dentists who are currently in the regular armed forces will be made redundant as a result of his statement?