12 October 2007 | Antony Barton
Allowing overseas suppliers to bid for Royal Navy shipbuilding work could damage relationships between the government, UK industry and other members of the supply chain, an MP has said.
Ian Davidson, Labour MP for shipbuilding region Glasgow South West, made the comment about the Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) project during a parliamentary debate about defence procurement this week. He was reacting to a proposal that could allow overseas suppliers to bid for MARS work.
The £2.5 billion project, to provide the Royal Navy with 11 replacement ships, is still in the development stage.
Bob Ainsworth, minister for the armed forces, said it is too early to make such claims, and added Lord Drayson, the minister for defence equipment and support, will be prepared to talk to people about the proposal. Referring to Davidson, he added: "He knows that we are embarking on a huge shipbuilding project in the coming years, and his constituency will be heavily involved in that."
In the same debate, Labour MP Ian Gibson, said he supports the investment made to date in British troops fighting in the Middle East. However he asked Ainsworth if more scrutiny of spend was needed to help increase investment further, claiming the defence select committee had often been frustrated about the lack of detail available on equipment spend.
Ainsworth said he is unaware of a problem and hoped the committee would be provided with all the information it needed.