Royal Navy: Type 31e Frigate - Question

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 11:06 am on 6th September 2018.

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Photo of Lord West of Spithead Lord West of Spithead Labour 11:06 am, 6th September 2018

I thank the noble Earl for his Answer—in “Yes, Minister” terms, he is very brave to make that statement. Our great maritime nation has 13 ageing frigates, which is a national disgrace. Replacing them is crucially important. The first design contract for the Type 26 frigate, the key replacement, was placed in 2005, and the first one will be delivered in 2024 or 2025, some 14 or 15 years later—a very long time. The Type 31e does not as yet have any contractors, designers or orders, yet we are saying that it will take four years. I hope that the Minister is right—that would be wonderful—but I am concerned. Is it not time to push the Type 26 programme to get these ships delivered more quickly, and to order the remaining five of them, in order to get a steady drum beat of orders that will drive the cost of the Type 26 ships down? A number of people in the Treasury would like to see that happen.