Ministry of Defence

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:20 pm on 26th February 2018.

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Photo of Paul Sweeney Paul Sweeney Shadow Minister (Scotland) 7:20 pm, 26th February 2018

That may have been a discrete maritime growth strategy, but the overall defence industrial strategy encompassed maritime aspects. However, I welcome the right hon. Gentleman’s efforts in that regard, and I hope that we can work constructively to improve the strategy in the manner that I suggested.

The funding of large-scale equipment programmes must be revisited as a matter of urgency, because it is not sustainable. The annual limits on key programmes that are multi-generational cannot be allowed to continue. When we were looking at the programme for the construction of the Type 26, we wanted to invest potentially half a billion pounds in reinvigorating the infrastructure that would support it, but because of the arbitrary in-year spending profile we could not invest in the infrastructure and facilities that would have benefited the programme throughout its life cycle, and we therefore lost that long-term benefit. For the sake of short-term savings, we are losing long-term efficiency in the generation of defence capability. That may be an answer to the question from the hon. Member for Gainsborough about whether we were receiving the maximum benefit. Perhaps if we sow the seeds of the maximum capability at the start of programmes, we will reap the benefits of efficiencies through the manufactures that result from those highly complex programmes.

Defence inflation and the need to pump-prime programmes at the start to ensure that they meet world-class standards are just a couple of the issues that we need to challenge if we are to get the most out of our industrial capability. I hope that the Secretary of State will take those comments on board.