§ Mr. Neil Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will ensure that the current naval shipbuilding programme is phased to allow stable levels of employment particularly in the key design engineering sector. 
§ Mr. Ingram
[holding answer 7 June 2004]: MOD and DTI officials and representatives from the shipbuilding industry meet on a monthly basis to discuss the future naval shipbuilding programme. These meetings are being taken forward in a positive and constructive manner.
The recent Defence White Paper (Essay 7—Making Defence Industrial Policy Work for the Armed Forces and UK Industry) sets out that the long-term solution to skills shortages in the defence industry involves a stable equipment programme against which future resource requirements can be planned.
We are making particular progress in this sector, where we have commissioned one of the largest programmes of military shipbuilding for many years. In partnership with industry we are comparing our resource requirements against capacity and evaluating the options to reprofile our demand for resources. In this way we can look at ways of avoiding unhelpful peaks and troughs.