asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty (1) in view of our present defence commitments, how far the number of fleet destroyers being converted to fast antisubmarine frigates has been increased;
(2) how far the building programme for new fast anti-submarine frigates has now been increased.
I apologise if my supplementary is a little long. In view of the effect of this matter on our allies, and particularly the United States of America, may I ask the hon. Gentleman, with all the seriousness at my command, whether a statement will be made in the very near future, possibly before certain decisions which may well be taken with the United States, perhaps in a week's time? May we expect a statement in the next few days?
The hon. Gentleman had an answer on that point from the Lord President yesterday. As far as the Navy is concerned, as the House knows, a number of orders for additional ships have already been placed. I am not yet in a position to give a full picture.
It is because there is a very long-term programme under consideration. No one can complain that the Admiralty have not been extremely forthright in the way in which they have dealt with their share of the programme.