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I will meet the right hon. Gentleman halfway. It is true that the delay in orders had an effect—I am not denying that—but there were also management issues.
The delays to the Astute have had the unfortunate effect that the venerable Trafalgar class of SSNs has had to be run on at considerable cost. The final Trafalgar is due to leave service in around 2022 and the seventh Astute boat is not due to enter service until 2024. In fairness, to respond to the right hon. Gentleman’s point, I know that the senior management of BAE, right up to and including the chief executive, are fully aware of the problems with the programme and have taken executive action to try to address them. I hope they will continue to apply pressure to bring the boats into service as soon as possible. It is vital that we learn the hard lessons from the Astute programme to make sure that the Dreadnought programme runs effectively to both time and cost; the defence of the realm demands no less.
I wish to pay full tribute to the men and women of the Royal Navy who have selflessly carried out their vital task for 50 years so that those of us in the United Kingdom can sleep safely in our beds at night. We owe a great debt to those who wear dolphins, and it is appropriate that we salute them in the House of Commons this afternoon. We are not backslapping; we stand here in admiration.