MoD inquiry after awarding huge contract to Spanish-led consortium

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It follows the announcement that a business owned by the Spanish Government will be the lead contractor in a project to build three fleet solid support ships, which will supply munitions, stores and provisions to Royal Navy aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates.

The cross-party House of Commons Defence Committee has written to Ministers demanding answers to questions such as how many jobs will be created in Spain and where the steel used to manufacture the ships will come from.

MPs on the committee plan to summon witnesses including senior Royal Navy officers to answer questions at a hearing in the New Year.

They include former Defence Minister Kevan Jones who said: “The Government talks about growing the economy but exporting British jobs to Spain by awarding this contract and undermining the UK shipbuilding industry seems a strange way of doing that.

“No other G7 or European country would procure naval ships from abroad.”

The Ministry of Defence has attempted to portray the consortium chosen as preferred bidders for the contract, called Team Resolute, as British-led.

Defence Minister Alex Chalk last week told MPs: “It is intended that Navantia UK, a UK-registered company, will hold the prime contract on behalf of Team Resolute.”

However, records held by Companies House show that Navantia UK was created in May this year and is wholly owned by Navantia SA, which in turn is owned by Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales, a holding company owned by the Spanish government.

Team Resolute also includes shipbuilders Harland & Wolff, which have a shipyard in Belfast, and Bath-based designers BMT.

Ministers say that Harland & Wolff will employ an additional 1,200 people as a result of the deal.

However, it appears hundreds of jobs could go to Spain, with Ministers saying only that the number created there will be less than in the UK.

In a written answer to MPs, Mr Chalk said: “The number of jobs sustained in Spain to deliver the Fleet Solid Support ships is a matter for the contractor concerned but it will be fewer than the number of jobs sustained and created in the UK.”

The Ministry of Defence declined to comment further.

A rival British bid by a consortium called Team UK, which includes British defence company Babcock, BAE systems and Merseyside-based shipyard Cammell Laird, was unsuccessful.

A spokesperson for the House of Commons Defence Committee said they could not comment on private committee deliberations.

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