‘I want us to capitalise on the great skills base we have in Portsmouth’

One of our library pictures showing HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, has the F and G ring sections joined together at BAE Systems' shipbuilding bay within Portsmouth Naval Base. They are the first of the sections - pre-installed with cabins, engines, cabling and ventilation - to be put together
One of our library pictures showing HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the Royal Navy's Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers, has the F and G ring sections joined together at BAE Systems' shipbuilding bay within Portsmouth Naval Base. They are the first of the sections - pre-installed with cabins, engines, cabling and ventilation - to be put together
From left, Southampton City Council leader Simon Letts, Portsmouth City Council leader Donna Jones, and Isle of Wight Council leader Jonathan Bacon sign the formal application for a Solent Combined Authority in 2016

Hopes remain £900m deal is not dead – as emails reveal disagreements

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A report on the future of the Royal Navy published last week is an important document which everyone in Portsmouth should welcome.

We need a strong navy to face the challenges of a changing world.

So it’s vital that we have clear and properly-funded programme for rebuilding the navy’s strength as more modern ships come into service.

The report by eminent expert, Sir John Parker, looked at how industry, the Ministry of Defence, trade unions and the navy can work together to deliver the warships of the future more cheaply and more quickly.

By the time the first Type 26 ship comes into service, it will be more than 25 years after the class was first planned, this is far too long and report makes recommendations to improve procurement and design.

We will also have the Type 31 frigate to build, which will be a ‘general purpose’ frigate to back up the anti-submarine capability of the Type 26.

Warships like Type 31 have been great exporting opportunities for the UK in the past, but we have lost ground to our competitors in warship exports in recent decades.

There are huge possibilities for UK companies if we can turn that around.

In order to make the most of the opportunity, we have to develop our engineering base.

Technical education is vital for young people in the 21st century.

The introduction of University Technical Colleges and stronger apprenticeships help develop those skills.

We have our own UTC opening in Portsmouth next year, and local businesses, like BAE and Airbus, do great work encouraging young people to take up engineering careers.

And it mustn’t be forgotten this is an opportunity for young women too, who are currently under-represented in technical and engineering careers.

In maths and science subjects girls outperform boys, and these are just the sorts of skills engineers need.

I am always thrilled to meet woman engineers, technicians and scientists and I would like to meet more!

I want us to capitalise on the great skills base we already have in Portsmouth, and make sure this city gets the credit it deserves as a centre of excellence.

We have everything here to offer clients in naval and civilian maritime engineering.

This is my last column of 2016, and Christmas is fast approaching.

I hope you and your family have a happy and peaceful time, and look forward with me to 2017. It is going to be a great year for Portsmouth and it is an honour to be your representative in parliament.