BIRKENHEAD's MP has urged the Government to consider Cammell Laird as a serious contender for future Ministry of Defence shipbuilding contracts.

During a debate in Parliament on the issue of defence procurement and supply chains, Mick Whitley - the town's Labour MP - said awarding such contracts had profound implications for the UK's manufacturing industries, the wider supply chains and communities of the "left behind" towns that are home to Ministry of Defence suppliers like Birkenhead.

Mr Whitley said: "My argument is simple: defence procurement has a vital role to play in helping British industry to survive this current crisis.

"The need for high-tech, cutting edge defence projects remains as pressing as ever. And British suppliers are well-placed to meet this demand.

"Shipbuilding also accounts for sixty percent of the North West's defence spending. And, of course, my constituency of Birkenhead is home to the historic Cammell Laird shipyard.

"Despite facing significant challenges in recent decades, Cammell Laird continues to provide high-skilled jobs and meaningful training opportunities to seven hundred people in Birkenhead.

"And it's staying ahead of the curve.

"Just last month, it launched the RSS Sir David Attenborough – perhaps the most technologically sophisticated vessel produced in this country in the last three decades.

"Cammell Laird continues to provide training opportunities to young people in my constituency.

"Over three-hundred young people have been offered apprenticeships over the last decade, with fifty-one starting this year.

"Now, Cammell Laird stands to benefit from the construction of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary's new Fleet Solid Support Ships.

"The Secretary of State for Defence's announcement that these vessels will be classified as warships, guaranteeing that they will be built in Britain, was welcome, and I believe Cammell Laird is a genuine candidate for the contract.

"Building these ships in here won't just benefit the hundreds of workers who will be guaranteed gainful employment for another decade.

"Or the young people whose horizons will be expanded through the provision of quality apprenticeships.

"It will also mean more work for the countless suppliers who provide the shipyards with parts and logistical support.

"It will mean more money spent in our town’s shops, restaurants, and hospitality venues which have been so devastated by the national lockdowns.

"And it will be mean more revenue for our local council, who are working tirelessly to support some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in the country.

"In short, it will mean hope for the town of Birkenhead."

Mr David McGinley, chief executive of Cammell Laird ShipRepairers and Shipbuilders, Atlantic & Peninsula Marine Services said: "Cammell Laird has been an integral part of the Wirral community for more than 120 years, providing vital jobs and helping to sustain the local economy.

"Today, we continue to grow in strength - completing some of the most ambitious ship building projects in modern times, through the Aircraft Carrier Alliance, the construction of the RRS Sir David Attenborough and our delivery of the next generation of submarines.

"Programmes likes these enable us to develop our apprenticeship programme, enhance the skills of our workforce and sustain our supply chain, giving much needed security to businesses and communities in Wirral, the North West and beyond.

"However, our future relies on our ability to secure major contracts.

"We welcome the Government's decision to re-start the Fleet Solid Support competition and stand ready to play our part in the development of the three warships, which will in turn deliver prosperity to the people of Birkenhead."