HL Deb 22 January 1980 vol 404 cc372-3

2.43 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government why it has not proved possible to reach agreement between the Royal Navy and the Royal Netherlands Navy on a common design for a new light frigate and a new diesel electric submarine, as the separate designs produced are very closely similar in all leading dimensions.

The MINISTER of STATE, MINISTRY of DEFENCE (Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal)

My Lords, the Royal Navy has no requirement at present for a new type of frigate although we are exploring with the Dutch and other NATO allies the longer term possibilities. I have myself had discussions with my Dutch counterpart on the possibilities for collaboration.

There are separate British and Dutch designs for diesel electric submarines, and the Dutch design is already being built. However, despite the superficial similarity, RN conventional submarines are designed for a different task and have to complement our nuclear-powered fleet submarines with a high degree of commonality and interoperability. The Dutch design fails to meet this requirement in a number of important respects.


My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his reply. May I put it to him that, as the numbers of our frigates and submarines in the Royal Navy have declined by no less than one-third in the last 10 years, it might be wise to seek to reinforce that strength as economically as possible?


My Lords, I could not disagree with the noble Lord on those aspirations: I would go along with them completely.