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. Gentleman for his warm gratitude to the armed forces. He is absolutely right; they have been spread right across the United Kingdom. I think I am right in saying that the last time I looked at the numbers, we had 1,800 troops still deployed, of which 500 were deployed in Scotland, helping on covid-related tasks. What he says will be much appreciated by all those who are involved at present.

On our protective screens to the aircraft carriers, the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that it is essential that we are able to provide them with carrier strike groups. We are very proud of that carrier strike group going out later this year. We will have sufficient frigates and destroyers to meet those requirements. There will be a dip, which has been publicised, with the retirement of two Type 23s, but we will be looking to 20 or more destroyers and frigates in short order; orders are being placed and we will ensure that we have them. I should also mention that we believe we have increased availability from the destroyers and frigates currently in our fleet, and the OPVs—offshore patrol vehicles—also help lessen the load on some of those frigates and destroyers, so I am confident we will be able to meet the requirements he sets out.