HC Deb 27 July 1982 vol 28 cc911-2
6. Mr. Douglas

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress made towards ordering type 22 and type 23 frigates for the Royal Navy.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Geoffrey Pattie)

I have nothing to add at this stage to the statements made on these topics by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence during the defence debate on 1 July and my hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces during the debate on the Royal Navy on 19 July.

Mr. Douglas

We have all read those debates. Will the Minister say clearly when an order for a type 23 will be placed? Is the design study being undertaken by Yarrow intended to indicate to people on the Clyde that they have a good chance of receiving that order?

Mr. Pattie

The hon. Gentleman referred to the type 23. As we have already said, we expect to place the order for that vessel in 1984, the design contract having already been let. As Yarrow is co-operating with us on that stage, it would obviously be a front runner for that contract.

Mr. Jim Spicer

The House will accept that the equipment and ships to replace the Falkland losses will take some time to come through, but is it possible to place the orders in the yards because, presumably, they will be type 22?

Mr. Pattie

This matter is at present under active consideration by my right hon. Friend. We have to take into account what has already been said on this issue and the particular lessons to be learnt from the Falklands campaign. I assure my hon. Friend that there will be no undue delay in the re-ordering process.

Mr. Denzil Davies

As the price of a type 23 frigate will now exceed the cost of refitting a Leander type frigate, whereas originally the intention was the other way around according to the Government's figures, does that not destroy much of the case for building disposable frigates and ending mid-life modernisation?

Mr. Pattie

No, it does not. In one case we are getting a brand new ship and in the other case we are getting a refitted older ship. I should have thought that the advantage was obvious.

Sir Patrick Wall

Has not an undertaking been given that the two destroyers and the two frigates lost in the Falklands will be replaced? When will the replacements be ordered?

Mr. Pattie

My right hon. Friend has said that the replacement would not necessarily be on a like for like basis, but that all the equipment that has been lost would be replaced.