Harriett Baldwin: HMS Queen Elizabeth has returned to Portsmouth after a successful second set of sea trials. Her commissioning ceremony is planned for 7 December in the presence of Her Majesty the Queen. The handover to the Royal Navy from the contractor is planned for the end of the year.
Harriett Baldwin: I certainly was not anticipating that line of questioning from my hon. Friend, the Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, but he is absolutely right that this new class of aircraft carrier will give a powerful expression of national ambition and intent. They are versatile and agile ships and will be able to perform a wide range of maritime security roles.
Harriett Baldwin: I am delighted to confirm that we have not only one aircraft carrier but a second aircraft carrier, which is now structurally complete, at Rosyth. Of course, there will be adaptations to ensure that the carriers are able to support the full range of helicopters in our fleet, but we have absolutely confirmed that we will have a full range of maritime capabilities from these two remarkable and...
Harriett Baldwin: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. To give just one example, today in Portsmouth one of the new Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability tankers has been commissioned into the Navy. There are six Type 45 destroyers. We cut steel on the first of eight new anti-submarine frigates, and we are running the competition for the Type 31e global general purpose frigate.
Harriett Baldwin: There is of course a limit to what we can comment on with regard to the specifics of the situation, but I can assure the hon. Gentleman that as part of our regular force deployment we will be regenerating that capability, and the Royal Navy is able to meet all its operational capabilities around the world.
Harriett Baldwin: The Ministry of Defence and the Department for International Trade continue to work closely with BAE Systems to promote and secure sales of the world-leading Hawk advanced jet training aircraft.
Harriett Baldwin: I can absolutely confirm that the Government are working wholeheartedly in every way they can to ensure that we put that order from the Government of Qatar on the order books by the end of the year. That includes—
Harriett Baldwin: I can write to the hon. Gentleman if there is some confusion. I thought it was six.
Harriett Baldwin: My hon. Friend and constituency neighbour will know that the Red Arrows have just returned from a very successful tour of the Gulf. Part of what they do is support the wonderful export campaigns that the company is running.
Harriett Baldwin: I am happy to pay tribute to the people who are here in the Gallery today for everything that they do. The hon. Lady is right to keep raising these issues. I can assure her that the Government are focusing very fully on both the matters that she raises.
Harriett Baldwin: Nonsense! We could not be working harder across the globe. We have not only the Department for International Trade but a fantastic network of defence attachés.
Harriett Baldwin: I am working tirelessly on behalf of the Government, travelling around the world to support a range of different export campaigns, as is my colleague, the Secretary of State for International Trade.
Harriett Baldwin: The £800 million defence innovation fund provides great opportunities for innovative suppliers. For example, I can today announce that the defence, science and technology laboratories, working with industry and academia, have developed a cutting-edge new chemical process to recover fingerprints, making it harder for terrorists and criminals to escape justice.
Harriett Baldwin: My hon. Friend is absolutely right to speak up for the amazing work being done in his constituency, not only for the carrier programme, but for the long-lead items for the Type 26 frigates.
Harriett Baldwin: A range of steps have been taken to facilitate that. For example, we have a single website, which is meant to be an easy portal into what we are procuring at the MOD. We have shortened the contract we require small businesses to sign, from 18 pages down to three. We also have a system of people within the organisation who can help new businesses find their way around the intricacies of the MOD.
Harriett Baldwin: Of course I can confirm that we have a commitment to a world-class shipbuilding industry. Indeed, the shipbuilding industry in Scotland has a pipeline of work going out two decades.
Harriett Baldwin: The hon. Gentleman’s question gives me an opportunity to pay tribute to the fantastic work that is being done on the 589 Ajax vehicles. This is the largest contract for military vehicles that has been awarded in the country for 30 years, and it involves a lot of work for the South Wales workforce.
Harriett Baldwin: I can confirm that—exactly as outlined in the recommendations of the national shipbuilding strategy, and as has been stated before in the House—that particular part of our shipbuilding programme will be open to international competition, including shipyards on the Clyde.
Harriett Baldwin: I am glad that the hon. Lady pays tribute to the Red Arrows’ amazing trade promotion role. She will know as well as anyone that the current Red Arrows will be in service until 2030, so a decision to replace them will not need to be made until after the end of this Parliament.
Harriett Baldwin: On a point of order, Mr Speaker.