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City MP bats for Portsmouth in summit with Defence Minister

Stephen Morgan, Member of Parliament for Portsmouth South heads to the Ministry of Defence in Whitehall to meet Parliamentary Under Secretary of State Stuart Andrew MP, Minister for Defence Procurement.

Following repeated lobbying of Ministers and calling for action by Government to invest in Portsmouth, today the city MP met with the Minister following his request to visit the Naval Base, and action to secure ship repair and maintenance work for local people, baseporting of the A31e class and a new dry dock in the city for the nation’s new carriers.

Since being an MP Mr Morgan has been raising a number of matters with the Government to help protect and create jobs in Portsmouth.

Today’s summit provided the opportunity to press the Minister on key defence issues relevant to Portsmouth and ensure that the interests of the city are heard by the Government.

The Royal Navy, local defence industry, trade union representatives and relevant charities were contacted by the MP in advance of the meeting with the Minister to liaise with them on the priorities to raise at the MoD.

Following the summit, Mr. Morgan stated:

“It is essential that jobs in my city come before party-politics. The importance of ensuring that Portsmouth remains at the forefront of discussions around defence procurement cannot be underestimated.

Portsmouth has long been described as the heart and home of the Royal Navy, it is my job to make sure it remains that way.”

The main issue discussed was the potential introduction of a dry dock in Portsmouth, following a recent question by the MP to the Secretary of State for Defence in the House of Commons. Stephen Morgan put the case to the Minister that Portsmouth would be an ideal location for such a development.

Stephen Morgan expressed:

“The dry dock would be worth at least £1bn to Portsmouth’s economy, it would generate over 100 jobs and would put Portsmouth on the map as being home to one of Europe’s largest dry dock facilities.

In today’s meeting with the Minister, I made It clear that Portsmouth would be the ideal home for such a development”.

Mr. Morgan also raised the matter of future frigate repair work and argued for Portsmouth to be named the city to carry out the work. If awarded to the city, it would be hugely lucrative and has the potential to generate a number of new jobs.

Another key point of the discussion was orientated around the A31e (GPFFs) contract. The A31e discussions stem from the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and is part of a ship replacement scheme aimed at creating new ships to replace the Type 23 Frigates, vessels belonging to the Duke class.

A number of companies have been competing for the contract and following much government stopping and starting, the Portsmouth MP was seeking clarity for when the contract will be awarded.

Regarding A31e’s Mr. Morgan has said:

“There has been a distinct lack of clarity with regard to the A31e contract and the Government’s record on the A31e programme has not been a good one. The Ministry of Defence must ensure that costs and timings are kept under control. 

Sadly the department’s equipment plan is unaffordable and several projects are delayed. The National Audit Office has already found that the MoD’s 10-year plan to provide the armed forces with the equipment needed for the years to 2028 is not realistic and could potentially face a funding shortfall of £14.8bn.

It was reassuring to hear the Minister today say that the contract would be awarded by December 2019.

This national project is of local significance to Portsmouth. I will therefore keep a close eye on Government over this and continue to press Ministers to secure Portsmouth as the location for where the new ships will be based”.

Mr. Morgan also utilised the meeting to raise awareness of ‘The Sea More Appeal’ which focuses on relocating the Royal Marines Museum to the Historic Dockyard. He added:

“It was useful to speak to the Minister about The Sea More Appeal. He passed on some names of other colleagues who may be able to assist in the campaign and I will be reaching out to them this week in attempt to raise awareness of this pressing matter.”