Future Frigate Project

Oral Answers to Questions — Defence – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 22nd June 1993.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Jim Cousins Jim Cousins , Newcastle upon Tyne Central 12:00 am, 22nd June 1993

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the future frigate project.

Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , South Thanet

Negotiations with France and Italy on the future frigate project are proceeding satisfactorily. I am pleased to announce plans to sign a memorandum of understanding establishing the joint project office in London this summer, subject to agreement being reached on the detailed arrangements for the development of the ship and its weapon systems.

Photo of Jim Cousins Jim Cousins , Newcastle upon Tyne Central

Does the Minister accept that there should be more urgency about the project, which is the most important European project that we have for anti-air and anti-missile defence for our naval forces which need that protective condom above them in the sky? Does the Minister agree that there is an urgent need to get the design work for that important project into the work-starved design teams of British shipyards, such as those of Swan Hunter on the Tyne, at the earliest possible date?

Photo of Mr Jonathan Aitken Mr Jonathan Aitken , South Thanet

I cannot join the hon. Gentleman in his colourful metaphors, but I agree that this is an important project. I am delighted to hear such robust sentiments from a member of the party which, at its conference, votes for swingeing cuts in defence. However, the hon. Gentleman should regard it as good news that the joint project office is to open later this summer.