HC Deb 07 December 1938 vol 342 cc1172-4
65. Mr. Day

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty particulars of the number of aircraft carriers at present in commission, including the number of aeroplanes, officers and other ranks in the complement and equipment?

Mr. Shakespeare

There are five aircraft carriers in commission. With the hon. Member's permission, I will circulate the other details in the OFFICIAL REPORT.

Mr. Day

Can the Minister say whether they are of the latest type?

Mr. De Chair

Is there any provision in the Anglo-German Naval Agreement relating to the proportion of aircraft carriers as between the two countries?

Following are the details:

needs of the growing Fleet require that steps shall be taken to re-open the dockyard at Rosyth on a limited scale. It is contemplated that the facilities to be provided will eventually enable some 200 additional men to be employed, and will render possible the refitting at the yard of some ships of the smaller classes.

Mr. McLean Watson

May I ask one or two questions, as this is a matter which concerns my constituency? The hon. Gentleman is aware that a shipbreaking firm occupies a section of that dockyard at present. In that part of the yard all the great ships of the German fleet have been broken up. What I want to ask is whether that shipbreaking firm is to receive notice to cease operations in the yard; and, arising out of that, if the answer is in the affirmative—[Interruption.]

Mr. Shakespeare

I will do my best to assure the hon. Gentleman who has such personal interest in the dockyard. We hope to carry out our policy with a minimum of disturbance to all concerned, and I hope it may be possible to allow that particular company to occupy the dockyard during the currency of their occupation.

Mr. Watson

The hon. Gentleman has told the House that approximately 200 men will be engaged in the dockyard as a result of the change made. But is he aware that at the moment the shipbreaking concern employs approximately 300 men; and are we going to have a recurrence of unemployment as a result of this announcement, as was the case in 1925, when the dockyard was put on a care and maintenance basis?

Mr. Shakespeare

I think the hon. Gentleman has misunderstood me. I said it was not our intention to interfere with that firm during the currency of their occupation.

Mr. Watson

Will consideration be given to the housing problem that will arise as a result of the reopening of the dockyard; will keymen be required to be transferred to Rosyth Dockyard, either from Southern dockyards or from other areas outside Dunfermline; and what housing accommodation does the Admiralty propose to provide for the men transferred from outside districts?

Mr. Shakespeare

On the first point, my hon. and gallant Friend the Civil Lord has also been in touch with the Scottish Office, and it is our intention to negotiate with the local housing authority with respect to that matter. On the second point, we will try as far as possible to employ local labour, subject to this, that it may be necessary to go a little further afield for a limited number of keymen.

Mr. Mathers

May I ask the hon. Member if the contemplated changes will have any effect upon Port Edgar, on the other side of the Firth, immediately or in the near future?

Mr. Shakespeare

I think not.