HC Deb 29 March 1983 vol 40 cc167-8
3. Sir Patrick Wall

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will report the progress of the design for the type 23 frigate.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Ian Stewart)

I have nothing to add to the reply that my predecessor gave to my hon. Friend on 16 November 1982.

Sir Patrick Wall

Will my hon. Friend at least assure the House that those vessels will be armed with both surface-to-air and surface-to-surface missiles as well as the helicopter and towed arrays? Are the lightweight Sea Dart and the lightweight Sea Wolf being considered for those vessels?

Mr. Stewart

In the debate in December last year my right hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Sir J. Nott) gave a list of the weapons systems which the ship would carry. I have nothing to add to the information that he gave at that time.

Mr. Stephen Ross

Is it true, as is rumoured, that the prototype type 23 sank?

Mr. Stewart

I do not know what the hon. Gentleman is referring to.

Mr. Jay

Would it not be more sensible to use our money to re-equip our Navy properly than to lend our money to the Argentines to re-equip theirs?

Mr. Stewart

I do not know whether the right hon. Gentleman was in the House last week to hear the effective answer by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when that point was raised. The very stringent conditions that are attached to international loans will make it more difficult, not easier, for the Argentines to spend money on offensive weapons. With regard to the equipment of the Royal Navy, I am glad to say that the type 23 and other ships that we now have in design and on order w ill improve our capability.

Mr. Viggers

Can my hon. Friend bring us up to date on the trials of the broader shorter hull, as opposed Ito the narrower longer hull, particularly in view of the interest that has been expressed in the concept of the broader shorter hull in the United States?

Mr. Stewart

I have, indeed, learnt of the new design that is under consideration for the United States Navy. With regard to alternatives for the type 23, the opportunity has been given to Thornycroft Giles and Associates to validate some proposals for a new design along those lines, but work is still in progress and no submission has yet been made to the Ministry of Defence about it.

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