Defence and Security Industrial Strategy

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:49 pm on 23rd March 2021.

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Photo of Jeremy Quin Jeremy Quin The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence 12:49 pm, 23rd March 2021

I thank the hon. Lady, but first I want to reassure my right hon. Friend Mr Ellwood that I have remembered the name I forgot earlier; it is Gripen, of course—that is what I should have been referring to. I thank the various people who have tried to help me out on that—[Interruption]—which is mainly my staff; Mr Jones is correct.

Turning to the question, first I thank Angela Crawley for her support for our naval warships policy. This is very good news for the Clyde and for Rosyth. We have existing frigate orders going through now and we will be setting out the new national shipbuilding strategy, which will outline in more detail further orders that will be coming in in the years ahead, many of which will—I have absolutely no doubt—benefit UK yards in many different ways, including the yards in Scotland. It is a real step change in shipbuilding. People should take a huge amount of comfort from the investment that we are placing in shipbuilding and it should be a real signal for shipbuilders around the UK to invest in their yards, skills and capabilities for the future.

I also point out that Scotland is not only about shipbuilding. It was a great pleasure to award contracts to Thales in relation to sonar this time last year and Boxer, based in Glasgow, and to Leonardo, with its fantastic work on radar in Edinburgh. There is a huge amount of capability in Scotland, which is one of the reasons why it has £380 per capita of defence equipment and support investment going on there, as opposed to £300 per head of population in the UK as a whole. Scotland can be really proud of the contribution that it makes to UK defence.

We have, and continue to have, great relationships with our European partners. We work closely with the Germans, the French and all those across the EU and we will continue to do so. We have close relationships regarding FCAS, as my right hon. Friend Mr Ellwood said. We will continue to work to ensure that we have good relationships with them going forward, as well as others.

Lastly, on nuclear weapons, I know the position of Angela Crawley and that of the SNP. Parliament voted to upgrade our nuclear weaponry to ensure that we maintained a credible, minimal, independent nuclear deterrent. That is what we are doing and I can reassure her that this equipment plan is indeed affordable.