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.

Click to enlarge.

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.

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Alex T
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Alex T

Depressing.

Julian
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Julian

Disappointing but hopefully it doesn’t really matter. This government, at least under a May premiership, doesn’t have long left to live. I hope the questioner (Andrew Rosindell) resubmits his question once the Tory leadership elections are over and the new prime minister and cabinet are in place.

I also hope the new government, according to media commentators likely to be lead by a hard Brexiteer, will realise that if we do hard-Brexit then economy-boosting initiatives, and most of the recommendations listed in the article are just that, will be absolutely critical in seeing the UK through the post-Brexit transition years.

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

Once May goes, the Daily Mail is floating the idea of a Johnson/Farage pact, that if the Euroelection results, produce the expected landslide for the Brexit Party, could result in a Tory/Brexit parliamentary majority to push through this Brexit limbo. Hopefully, it would then turn to the things an independent Britain would need, such as infrastructure, industry, law & order, + defence.

Simon
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Simon

Everything that is currently wrong with Britain in a single line: lack of investment in infrastructure, industry, law & order and defence.

Nick C
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Nick C

Farage is not exactly a likeable character, but I hope his party does well, if only to blow a massive raspberry at the establishment. Whether he gets into Parliament to be able to do something about it is another matter.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

He’s likeable for me. I’ve spoken at length with him before and thoroughly enjoyed both times.

But respect your view Nick.

I don’t think he’s got a chance getting into Parliament. The establishment will put paid to that. Look what has happened to Brexit.

The other issue is FPTP which nicely protects the big two’s position despite UKIP getting around 4 million votes in 2015 for return of 1 MP. Or was it 2 I forget.

Compared with SNP and Lib Dems with less vote combined and how many MP’s.

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

Oh come on that’s a little selective, it wasn’t long ago that the Lib Dems got almost as many votes as labour and still only got 40 odd seats, a fraction of what Labour got, so to use them as a whipping boy for criticism of the two party system stitch up is somewhat disengenuous not to mention ironic, considering the long history of them getting far less seats than their proportion of the vote deserved, not to mention the total stich up of the Social Demoncrats before them who at one time were polling bigger support than any other… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Sorry Spy I think you misunderstood my main point I was aiming at – I was not using the Lib Dems as a whipping boy! My post was aimed at FPTP Tory Labour.

Quite happy to concede it hits the Lib Dems too.

Just that it hit UKIP more as the Lib Dems at least had several MP’s.

Hope that clears that up.

Marc
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Marc

Seems like a nice bloke to me at least he isn’t a Mercer.

Trevor
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Trevor

I hope frankly there is a landslide. But if I were you I would wait until you are sure before you speculate on anything. The country is not at all giving a clear indication for anything.

HF
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HF

That is the problem, the country is split. If Mrs May had not tried to do it unilaterally we may have resolved it in a way that satisfies enough people to consider it a consensus.

Trevor
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Trevor

If the current govt proposes an agreement that suits the DUP then it would probably pass with votes from the Tories. But it would need the EU to pass that. No matter what proposal that say the govt even after an election does not suit the EU then it hits a brick wall. But on all sides there are groups who would block anything. Only really if TBP make inroads into Labour constituencies will we get enough Labour MPs to pass any pro Brexit votes. And we have to see what the results are on Sunday. I suspect there will… Read more »

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

I think you are spot on Trevor.

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

I am convinced that the only way out of the Brexit quicksand is to have a quick second referendum asking “Do you want a hard or a soft Brexit?” The will of the people would hopefully unjam parliament & let the EU know what the UK people want.

maurice10
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maurice10

It must be like banging your head against the wall trying to get a pro-British strategy past a British Government? What dumb minded officials would even suggest a foreign yard, when there is capacity at Rosyth for the new support ships? The trouble appears to be a ‘No national border’ mentality in Whitehall, where the budget is king regardless of where they obtain orders. If Brexit happens, this mindset needs to change or UK shipbuilding is truly doomed.

bazjak
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bazjak

Why is it always Rosyth mentioned
There are other yards that are struggling
What people seem to forget is the fact that Rosyth did not contruct the carriers but put them together and made them what they are from bits that where consructed from all over the UK
Even little Appledore in N Devon did a bit but Babcock has since closed said yard

keithdwat
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keithdwat

As an Irishman at heart, H&W needs a look in, they are one of the last yards in the UK capable of building anything significant in size!

Mark
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Mark

You do recall what happened the last time H&W did an RFA hull? I very much doubt the MOD would ever be happy selecting it, not when things could become “interesting” in NI again.

maurice10
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maurice10

I don’t care which yard gets the job as long as it’s in the UK. I suggested Rosyth, however, there are other yards to consider.

Callum
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Callum

Rosyth is the construction site for the UK bid for the FSS, hence why it’s mentioned regularly regarding the support ships.

No one’s forgetting that the carriers were block built, but Rosyth maintains the largest workforce familiar with assembling large ships. Of the other contenders, Appledore was too small and Harland and Wolfe still haven’t built a full ship in decades. Only Cammel Laird has proven itself a viable contender. Until the T31 contract is awarded, we won’t know if CL or Rosyth is secure for a while.

bazjak
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bazjak

Appledore was small but it still played a part in the building of the carriers
But alas thats now gone

Darren
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Darren

It’s only babcock who are gone when the lease ran out. The yard is there still with interest in it.

Spyinthesky
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Spyinthesky

I totally agree, it seems lost on the irony of a government that is so keen to deliver us Brexit, equally being a Government that seems to have almost a hatred, certainly a distinct distaste over the years, of supporting British (heavy) industry which is vital to an Independent Britain where balance of payments takes greater precedence than as a region of a bigger economic entity. It’s a real problem I believe when you gave an Eton/Oxbridge educated and professional political elite that have no understanding or importance of the concept of a true mixed economy as they plan their… Read more »

Cam
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Cam

Jeremy hunt is a pro UK millitary and if he gets the PM job I hope he looks after UK ship building, almost all of our major city’s used to be powerhouses and have lots of ship yards!. But he’s not a brexiteer!

Nick C
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Nick C

And I think that him not being a brexiteer will be held against him by the members of the Tories who will select the new leader. Now we know that May is going it is really a question of “can anyone stop Johnson?” Frankly I can’t stand the man, and I reckon that when he gets into No 10 he will change his spots as soon as the mandarins get there claws into him. He has the attention span of a mayfly in any case, unless the mayfly has good legs! There is a very good article about his liberal… Read more »

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

Agree. I don’t want Johnson as PM either.

Just another posh Tory toff in the eyes of too many, despite his culture and historical knowledge.

keithdwat
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keithdwat

I’d like Jacob Rees Mogg, but he is a backbencher so not a chance in hell.
I like Hunt personally, Dominic Raab wouldn’t be the worst, but at the end of the day its gonna be Boris, we will see if he is up to the job, I mean Churchill was just a tory toff as well!

HF
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HF

JRM has prepared for Brexit by moving his investment company to Dublin.

Trevor
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Trevor

Exactly. Born in Blenheim Palace. Corbyn was born in a minor Country House and went to a minor public school. That does not stop him being as dim as two short thick planks.

But as is said, the civil servants will inveigle against who ever is PM. Boris is not a far right but he can I think communicate and work with people better than May… she lost it with her hopeless election and daft manifesto.

DRS
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DRS

Johnson has his faults and I think he is an ideas man rather than a doer, but I do see him seeing that capital investment is a priority to give economic stimulus, so hopefully would prioritise U.K. ship building. You may think his support for a Scotland – N Ireland Bridge is a pipe dream, but if we do that that would single handedly support British steel for years to come. Who know politicians are all as bad as each other in the end! 🙁

Mark
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Mark

I can think of a hundred different projects that the UK could better spend the money on than a Scotland-NI bridge.

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

Given the weather there, I think I would rather cross in a Tunnel than a bridge.
Re Boris. If remain Tory MPs stop Boris getting on the ballot paper to members, they may think themselves clever, but then face a mass defection of members to the Brexit Party.
Boris has an epic enemy in himself. If he can be statesman Boris, rather than clown Boris, then he is probably our last best hope at the moment. He would need a bodyguard to protect him from himself.

Trevor
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Trevor

I think the article is a bit one eyed. The minister is going to meet the committee. Lets wait. I hope the ships are built here.

geoff
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geoff

It’s a funny old word we live in at present. Here we are(surely!!) about to leave the EU one way or t’other yet the Government won’t chip in to save our last local steel producer because intervention would breach EU rules!!!??? Am I missing something here? I realise that for British Steel to just break even is a big ask but can anyone seriously believe we can get by in this dangerous world without an indigenous steel(and naval shipbuilding) industry?

HF
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HF

It’s ideology, not EU rules – private good, public bad. In terms of industries like cars etc I’d agree it’s not an area for government but as steel is a strategic industry some short term support until the market picks up or a buyer is found would be reasonable.

Expat
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Expat

Are you suggesting we need domestic supply in case of some sort crisis? Why is steel strategic as opposed to other items like plastics, microchips etc or do we need to ensure we have a supply of those domestically?

HF
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HF

Steel was the specific item under discussion. I sure other items command such importance but that’s beyond the scope of this particular topic.

Expat
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Expat

Geoff, there’s a bigger picture around British Steel. Its a very compettitve market. So facts like China produced more steel in the past year than UK has done in total since the industrial revolution gives you an idea of the economies of scale the UK industry is up against. Why is it such big issue that we don’t have indigenous Steel prodcution? We don’t produce the Eurofighter without other nations, we buy parts for other defence systems from all over the world, steel is just one of those parts in the end. What I think is worng is the lack… Read more »

geoff
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geoff

Thanks HF and Expat for your comments. Perhaps we have to face the reality that in general but particularly in the case of the EU we are deeply integrated in to the EU in so many ways that the dream of an ‘independent Global Britain’ is just that- a dream

Julian
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Julian

It’s not just EU rules. WTO rules have restrictions on state interventions as well. There are differences in that EU is “ask for permission before doing it” whereas WTO is “do it but you might get sanctioned and/or taken to court afterwards (by other countries) if it breaches our rules”. Also EU state subsidy regs apply to goods & services and WTO goods only but in the case of British Steel that last point is not applicable since it is goods. (https://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/SN06775)

JohnHartley
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JohnHartley

Well other countries boost their industries through a sovereign wealth fund. WTO & other supranational bodies frown on government gifts/grants/ aid to industry, but do not block a commercial investment via a sovereign wealth fund.

Julian
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Julian

Oh absolutely. I agree. As you say, sovereign wealth funds exist to invest money and it has to be invested somewhere so doing it in-country is entirely appropriate. There’s also covert support of industries by encouraging significant orders such as FSS go to local industry. In addition to looking at the bigger immediate-term picture when deciding on where to place such orders, i.e. not just look at contract price but also try to factor in an offset for additional tax revenue generated in the UK from a UK contract (corporation tax, employee PAYE and VAT on what they spend their… Read more »

Expat
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Expat

So why would the government tell a bidder its essentially won the contract? Would you walk into car dealer and tell them your going to by a particular car from them irrespective of the price and terms of the contract. That’s one sure fire way to ensure you get ripped off, you’d have to be a complete idiot to remove your ability to negotiate. As soon as the government announces its a UK bid only the consortium can name their terms. If the government doesn’t like the terms it has no choice it cannot go back on the decision its… Read more »

Barry Larking
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Barry Larking

Unacceptable. Sub text: We have better things to do i.e. climb the greasy pole at Westminster. The country can go hang.

Daniele Mandelli
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Daniele Mandelli

People are waking up. After what has happened since 2016 this is no longer just about Brexit for Nigel Farage.

I hope he rips the establishment, that is the Conservatives and Labour, apart. Their cosy cartel needs to end.

How about Proportional Representation for a start.