On 15 January, during a debate on the Governments ongoing National Security Capability Review, Kevan asked the Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson, about the size of the Army.
“In 2015, the Conservative party was very clear that the size of the Army should be 82,000. Will the Secretary of State give a commitment today that on his watch the size of the Army will not drop below 82,000, and if it does, will he resign?”
Rather than giving a firm commitment to maintaining troop numbers, the Defence Secretary, answered by saying:
[…] “we want to deliver on the numbers that we outlined in the manifesto in keeping the forces at the levels that they are, and we will be doing everything we can to deliver on that.”
The Government’s ongoing National Security Capability Review has been subject to reports that ministers had plans to cut personnel numbers within the armed forces.
Earlier in the day, during Commons Defence Questions, Kevan raised his concerns about it’s shipbuilding strategy.
“The national shipbuilding strategy states that overseas nations will order 40 Type 31 frigates. It is nearly 40 years since we last successfully exported any frigates, so will the Minister explain how that figure was arrived at? Is there any fact behind it, or is it just optimistic spin?”
Questions remain over just how big the market will be for the Type 31e. It is entering a market where countries such as France and Italy are years ahead of Britain in producing light frigates. The last successful British new-build export warship was the Rothesay-class frigate built in the early 1960s so clearly our warship exports will have to start from scratch.
Kevan is the Chair of the APPG for Shipbuilding and Ship Repair.