A cross-party report on the shipbuilding industry appears to have been brushed off by the Government.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair recently launched a report on the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
Based on evidence from experts in the field, the report called on the Government to ensure domestic yards receive the Fleet Solid Support Ship Contract in order to retain the skills needed to construct, refit and upgrade complex warships in the future.
The report also states that the industry is already facing significant redundancies as the aircraft carrier programme runs down, with the subsequent loss of leading-edge skills. Once lost, the report argues, these skills cannot be quickly regained and the UK’s sovereign capability to produce complex warships will suffer accordingly, as will the UK’s ability to project naval power.
The report can be downloaded here but for the sake of context for this article, here are the recommendations.
Chair of the APPG, Kevan Jones MP, also called on Government to “ensure the £1bn contract for Fleet Solid Support Ships is handed to British yards in order to preserve UK’s capability to design and construct warships in the future”.
General Secretary of the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) warns that “as carrier programme runs down, closures and redundancies are already starting to blight shipyards and supply chain”.
Andrew Rosindell, MP for Romford, asked in a written parliamentary question:
“To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if she will make an assessment of the potential merits of the recommendations made in the report entitled, National Ship Building Strategy, published by the All Party Parliamentary Group for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair in May 2019.”
Stuart Andrew, the guy, answered in a somewhat dismissive tone:
“I thank the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Shipbuilding and Ship Repair for their work in completing this report.
The Ministry of Defence is not required to make a formal assessment of the recommendations in the report, but as per my oral contribution on 20 May 2019 (Official Report column 494) I would be happy to meet the APPG to discuss their report.”
Well, there we have it.
A report with recommendations praised by people across the political spectrum, praised by naval personnel, industry experts and even defence commentators is to be the subject of a brief discussion and no doubt, previous remarks on why the Government don’t believe the new Fleet Solid Support Ship work should be restricted to the UK will be repeated.