EEF and NDI, the defence trade body, are urging MPs to back the Successor submarine programme at a vote in the House of Commons due to take place later today (July 18).
The vote will decide whether the UK will press ahead with a class of four new Successor submarines to replace the Royal Navy’s existing Vanguard class.
MPs will be asked to decide based on the UK’s current and future defence needs, and the role that the Continuous At Sea Deterrent will play as part of the nation’s defences.
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NDI and EEF, however, say that a commitment to the Successor programme will not only be key for the nation’s defences, but will also be a critical commitment to future UK manufacturing success.
In a briefing sent to MPs, and to Lords ahead of a subsequent House of Lords debate due to be held later today, the two bodies identify that the construction and through-life sustainment of the Successor submarines would support more than 30,000 UK jobs.
They also highlight that the submarine supply chain involves up to 1,000 companies in every region of England, Scotland and Wales, and Successor would provide them with valuable long-term business opportunities.
The programme is a major national investment programme (£55.7bn) of a scale similar to HS2, representing a major opportunity for the steel industry, the UK defence supply sector and wider industry.
As a result, the two bodies have called on Government to ensure that mandatory steel policy guidance is adhered to and that the use of British steel content is maximised.
CEO of EEF, Terry Scuoler commented: “In many ways, this vote will be the first test of the new Government line-up’s mettle.
“The Successor programme is an opportunity for Government to show firm commitment to the nation’s defence as well as to British industry – a message that many will view as critical, particularly in light of the UK leaving the EU.
“With so much to play for, it is clear that this programme demonstrates the type of strategic investment required if Britain is to achieve its ambition of being a major player on the global stage.”
Director of NDI, Andy Collier added: “[The Successor programme] will ensure that Britain’s proud 115 year record of making submarines will continue, and that will support jobs and ensure we retain vital skills in our economy.
“It is of course critical that the wealth of opportunity is made open and accessible to firms of all sizes across the UK. Every effort must be made to ensure that manufacturers feel supported and enabled to bid for contracts and to become part of the defence supply chain.
“By doing this the UK can harness innovation and new technology from across the widest spectrum and this will only serve to strengthen the Successor programme and its positive economic impact.”