Stuart Andrew: The Ministry of Defence spent nearly £1.6 billion with businesses in Scotland in 2016-17, supporting 10,500 jobs. I am personally delighted to see work progressing on the Type 26 on the Clyde, on the aircraft carriers at Rosyth and, of course, on the preparations for the new Dreadnought-class submarines at Faslane.
Stuart Andrew: As I have said on many occasions, the fleet solid support ships are not classed as warships. There is no compelling national security reason to consider UK shipbuilding capacity as part of that procurement, but we are working very closely with industry, because we want it to become very competitive so that it not only attempts to win those contracts but is more successful with other contracts...
Stuart Andrew: My hon. Friend is absolutely right. In the short time I have been in this role, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Scotland. I have been pleased to see the extent of the work and the fantastic achievement of the defence industry there, and long will that continue as far as we are concerned and are in charge of the MOD.
Stuart Andrew: I am not going to comment on what other countries do.
Stuart Andrew: The MOD regularly monitors the performance of all its contractors, including outsourced services. That is carried out through the robust monitoring of contract performance indicators and taking action as appropriate where standards are not met.
Stuart Andrew: I recognise there have been challenges in the Capita contract, but we are working closely with Capita on an improvement plan. We will always ensure that we do everything we can to support our veterans, and I know the Under-Secretary of State for Defence, my right hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth East (Mr Ellwood) will be working day in, day out to support that.
Stuart Andrew: We will always ensure that we get the very best for the people who have served in the armed forces and that we get value for money for the taxpayer, too. That is the responsible thing the Government should do.
Stuart Andrew: The UK remains unconditionally committed to European security by playing a leading role in NATO and maintaining our strong transatlantic links. The UK will retain sovereign control over its armed forces. The agreement simply allows us to work together when we think that is in our best interests. That will only be as a third-party relationship, respecting the UK’s sovereignty and the EU’s...
Stuart Andrew: The national shipbuilding strategy is there so that we do everything we can to make sure that we have an industry that is competitive not just in this country, but across the globe, and that is exactly what we are trying to do. By getting the fleet solid support ships through international competition, we can secure a good price for the British taxpayer, too.
Stuart Andrew: Obviously, it is disappointing to see that there is industrial action, and we are also concerned about job losses. This is why we were pleased to announce that £619 million contract as part of a number of ongoing contracts that we have been giving to UK shipyards around the country.
Stuart Andrew: Excuse me a moment; I will try to answer the hon. Gentleman’s question—[Interruption.]
Stuart Andrew: As I have said before, we now have a national shipbuilding strategy that is ensuring that our shipbuilding industry knows exactly what the MOD will be building over the next 30 years so that it can plan accordingly and be competitive in the world market. Surely, we should be welcoming that.
Stuart Andrew: Thank you very much, Mr Hollobone; it is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. I too offer my congratulations to the hon. Member for Glasgow North East (Mr Sweeney) for securing this important debate. I know that this a matter close to his heart and an issue of great importance to him. I was somewhat depressed, however, by the fact that he said he will be 30 in January, given that I...
Stuart Andrew: There were issues with the start of the procurement process. We have reset that, and I reassure the hon. Gentleman that we are sticking to delivery of the first one by the end of 2023. We have made that commitment; this is an ambitious project, and we are determined and working incredibly hard to ensure that we catch up any time that may have been lost. Each time I have updates, I get more...
Stuart Andrew: It is not a warship by definition, for the simple reason that the definition is based on the UK’s requirement to retain the ability to design, build and integrate frigates, destroyers and aircraft carriers for reasons of national security, ensuring that the complex nature of the construct is an important part of it from the very beginning. We will continue to have this argument—unions are...
Stuart Andrew: The UK has world-leading counter-chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear capabilities. The MOD has committed around £950 million to maintain and improve these over the next 10 years.
Stuart Andrew: Absolutely, and I pay tribute to all those who worked so carefully and so hard in Salisbury and Amesbury on our behalf. As I said, the £950 million is there to improve this over the next 10 years. That includes £48 million to help to set up a new chemical weapons defence centre in Porton Down to make sure that we maintain our cutting-edge capability in chemical analysis and defence.
Stuart Andrew: The hon. Lady makes a very important point. Of course, this is not just about the armed forces; we have to recognise that all the emergency services were there very quickly. We need to ensure that they have all the training that they need. I will speak to colleagues in other Departments to ensure that that is happening.
Stuart Andrew: The 20% target for major equipment ensures that investment is directed towards NATO’s capability priorities, which directly enhances the security of the alliance. The United Kingdom continues to spend more than 2% of GDP on defence, and to spend more than 20% of that on major equipment. That investment helps to keep the UK safe, and ensures that NATO remains at the heart of our defence.
Stuart Andrew: I pay tribute to my hon. Friend, and to my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Torridge and West Devon, for the work that they are doing on an issue that I know is important to them. One of the key aims of the national shipbuilding strategy is that UK shipbuilders should be competitive in overseas markets as well as domestically, so that we can secure their long-term future. I hope...