The national shipbuilding strategy and the National Shipbuilding Office are supporting our ambition to grow the UK shipbuilding enterprise and support UK jobs. Five new Type 31 frigates being built in Rosyth will support more than 1,000 UK jobs. The fleet solid support contract will deliver £77 million of investment, and create more than 1,200 jobs in UK shipyards and many more across the UK supply chain.
First, it is predominantly a matter for private companies or indeed non-Government departments to choose how and why to buy those vessels. But of course, to encourage more UK shipbuilding, we announced in the shipbuilding strategy last year the home shipbuilding credit guarantee scheme, which is there to help counter what seems to be a perverse incentive whereby other countries’ export credits encourage British companies to build abroad. We have been working closely on this with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, and I hope that we will be able to announce more details soon.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his answer thus far. Clearly, as we replace ageing ships and increase the size of the Navy, it is important that we ensure that those ships are built in Britain rather than abroad. What measures will he take to ensure that there is a long-term plan so that our shipbuilders can plan for the future?
I point my hon. Friend to the national shipbuilding strategy, which puts in place lots of measures, such as the home shipbuilding guarantee scheme and export credits for foreign buyers, as well as a skills plan, a “yards for the future” plan, which is about what a modern yard should look like and whether we can compete with European yards that have already beaten us to too many contracts, and a shipbuilding pipeline. That is an incredibly important indicator to the industry that there is a long-term pipeline to come through. It is also important to recognise that if we are going to be as successful as we are in the aerospace industry, we will need export, and if we are to export to other markets, we have to recognise that international collaboration is also part of the process. Do I think that Australia and Canada would have bought our Type 26s if we had said, “No way, you are only having ‘British’ on it”? No, and all our supply chain would have suffered as a result.
Notwithstanding what the Secretary of State has said, we know that many aspects of the shipbuilding industry feel that our Government have been less supportive of them than some of our competitor nations around the world. If the Government continue to award contracts under which large proportions of the work are completed abroad, will that not undermine the British shipbuilding industry? Will the Secretary of State say something more about how we can ensure that more of these ships are built by UK shipbuilding firms?
I really urge the hon. Gentleman not to listen to the propaganda and claptrap of the union leadership. I recently went to Belfast and to Appledore and met the local unions and do you know what? They do not agree with their leadership’s statements and rather bizarre propaganda. Fundamentally, the fleet solid support ships will be entirely put together, and nearly two thirds built or supplied, through the UK. At the same time, we are getting £77 million of investment into the yards to modernise them so that they can compete. For too long, our yards have not won contracts, whether Government or private, because we have found that the big prime contractors have not invested in modernising the skills in the yards. When I meet the workforce, whether in Govan or elsewhere, they say that they want to be invested in.
Secretary of State, we have got to get through all the questions, not just the first ones.
I refer the House to my declaration in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. As a proud member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, I have been lucky enough to visit some of our fellow NATO Parliamentary Assembly members, such as the US and Spain, which take huge pride in their buoyant shipbuilding sectors. The Secretary of State talks about the ships being put together in this country. With contracts being awarded outside the UK, or a large portion of them being completed abroad, how does he expect to keep investment in the UK—
Order. I am sorry, it is not fair to everybody else. I am bringing you in on a supplementary; it does not mean you can take all day. Try to answer it, Secretary of State.
I can guess the memo that was sent from the union to the hon. Lady about what to ask. The reality is that unless we invest in our shipbuilding industry and unless we collaborate internationally, we will not have a shipbuilding industry. We tried it the other way, and it did not work. We have to build collaboratively. In the aerospace industry, including in Lancashire, where you and I are from, Mr Speaker, we have the Typhoon aircraft, which is an international collaboration and a world-beating success, employing tens of thousands British people.
I call the Opposition spokesperson.
“a key part of the future fleet”.
In the National Audit Office report on the equipment plan, it reported that
“Navy Command withdrew its plans for Type 32 frigates…because of concerns about unaffordability.”
How can Type 32 frigates be a key part of the future fleet if there are question marks around their affordability?
That is because the Type 32 frigate will not come in until after 2030 or 2031, because it will come after the Type 31s, which are being constructed in Rosyth as we speak. What the Type 32s are going to be, how they will be designed and who will build them is obviously a matter for between now and towards the centre of the decade. Even if the hon. Gentleman gets into government, no Treasury will give a budget for seven years forward, so it is important to make sure that we do not sign on the dotted line before we have the budget in line. It is absolutely the intention of the Royal Navy to have more frigates and destroyers, including the Type 32.