FORMER prime minister Lord Cameron has backed a project promising to help make Barrow a 'powerhouse of the north' as the town's shipyard workforce expands.

The foreign secretary backed Team Barrow, a group made up of local community leaders and top government figures working to transform and regenerate the area.

It comes as the UK embarks on the AUKUS submarine building programme alongside the US and Australia.

Speaking in the House of Lords, the peer backed the project.

He said: "There is Team Barrow to bring together the town council, BAE Systems and the Government.

"A lot of money is being put in—£25 billion from the Government and a further £16 million of levelling-up money—to make sure we have not just the defence capacity but the physical capacity in the town and the people to do this.

"I am confident we can get this done."

He also hit back at a suggestion by Lord Houghton of Richmond that the Team Barrow project was too costly, saying: "The money going into Barrow is a drop in the ocean compared to the cost of one submarine: as he well knows, these things come out at about £1billion each.

"We need to make sure that Barrow, which has incredible manufacturing expertise, is fit to do this extra work that is going to be required as it scales up to 17,000 jobs.

"Are we going to benefit as a country? I would say absolutely yes."

Lord Cameron also appeared to deny suggestions that the pact with Australia would lead to qualified UK workers taking up careers Down Under rather than in Barrow. 

The debate came following a question about progress on the AUKUS defence partnership, which will see the UK, US and Australia produce submarines.

In response, Lord Cameron said 'significant progress' was being made on the deal.

Speaking about Team Barrow investment after the session, Lord Walney said on X: "Investment now is vital to keep long term costs down."

Michael Gove, the levelling up secretary, previously said he wanted Barrow to become a 'new powerhouse for the North'.