David Cameron has rejected claims that a Royal Navy shipbuilding programme has been delayed because the Ministry of Defence has “run out of money”.
At a Defence Select Committee meeting on the procurement of new ships for the Royal Navy, concerns were raised about the apparent lack of £750 million available to fund the construction of the first batch of Type 26 frigates.
Peter Roberts, Senior Research Fellow for Sea Power and Maritime Studies at RUSI has said that slippage in the Type 26 programme may lead to extra ships being built on the Clyde in order to retain jobs at the yards on the river.
“What it’s going to mean for the Clyde is very significant and I think we couldn’t get a national shipbuilding strategy at a more important time and it might well be that we see further OPV’s being turned out on the Clyde”
He also suggested that the Type 31 light frigate could enter build before the Type 26.
Referring to the commitment of the government to the Clyde, he said:
“There is going to be a commitment, we see that from the government, of continued shipbuilding orders.”
The issue was raised at Prime Minister’s Questions by the SNP’s Steven Paterson:
“Yesterday at the defence committee the former first sea lord Admiral Lord West commented that the Ministry of Defence had effectively run out of money for shipbuilding.
Given reports that another Russian submarine has had to be escorted out of the UK waters overnight does the Prime Minister share my concerns that the delays to work beginning at the Clyde ship yards on the new frigates is causing real problems and agree it’s essential that the money is allocated to deliver this programme in full and on schedule?”
Mr Cameron replied:
“It is certainly not the case that this country in any way has run out of money or run out of ambition when it comes to shipbuilding. We are currently building the two largest ships the Royal Navy has ever had and we are going to shortly be commissioning the Type 26 programme as well as the off-shore patrol vessels.
The point I would make to you is there is only one way we could threaten shipbuilding on the Clyde and that would be to pull out of the United Kingdom and see the jobs be decimated as a result.”