THE defence secretary has pledged that no further cuts will be made to the Royal Navy should his party return to power.
Tory Michael Fallon says the government has a ‘huge investment programme’ in place to bolster the navy and secure the future of the city’s dockyard for years to come.
Concerns have recently been raised about the future of defence spending and how the conventional forces have dropped to their lowest numbers since the Napoleonic Wars.
Speaking to The News during a visit to Portsmouth yesterday ahead of the general election, Mr Fallon said: ‘There is a huge investment programme in place to expand the navy.
‘We’re investing in the navy – we’re building naval aircraft carriers and hunter-killer submarines and replacing frigates.
‘These maritime warships are going to be much more powerful than their predecessors – four or five times more powerful.
We are planning on replacing all 13 of the existing type 23s, but we are still in the planning phase. But these will be more powerful than the existing frigates.Defence secretary Michael Fallon
‘It’s not just the number we build, but what they can do.’
It comes after Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, wrote to David Cameron urging him to give a guarantee all 13 of the navy’s current Type 23 frigates would be replaced with Type 26s.
When asked by The News whether there would be a like-for-like replacement, Mr Fallon could give no firm promise but said that was the plan.
‘We’re planning on replacing all 13 of the existing Type 23s, but we are still in the planning phase,’ he said.
‘But these will be more powerful than the existing frigates.’
Mr Fallon criticised comments made by The Green Party’s defence spokeswoman Rebecca Johnson that the navy is irrelevant and belongs to a ‘different era’.
‘This is an insult to the people who serve in the navy and their families,’ he said. ‘It shows no understanding of our history.’
Fallon criticised for use of ‘weasel words’
MICHAEL Fallon has come under fire for not giving a firm promise over the replacement of the navy’s frigates.
Councillor Gerald Vernon-Jackson, Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Portsmouth South, said of the defence secretary’s comments yesterday: ‘It’s weasel words and it’s wrong.
‘It’s about making sure we have got the right number of ships available.
‘For the navy to say it could do everything with one powerful ship is just ludicrous.
‘The navy needs to be in places around the world as and when the British government says it is needed.’