HC Deb 23 November 1938 vol 341 cc1738-9
24. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Government have considered the desirability of re-opening Pembroke Dockyard; and what decision has been come to?

25. Mr. Grant-Ferris

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty, whether, in view of the fact that the Pembroke Dock is far removed from areas likely to be bombed and possesses considerable natural safeguards, he will consider the re-opening thereof?

Mr. Shakespeare

The present position at Pembroke is that the greater part of the old dockyard is used by the Air Ministry as a base for flying-boat squadrons, and part is leased to Messrs. Wards, a firm of shiphreakers. Arrangements have been made for certain land to be used by the Admiralty for storage purposes, but after a careful examination it has been decided not to re-open the establishment as a Naval dockyard under present circumstances.

Sir A. Knox

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that this dockyard would certainly be required in time of war, and that it would be better to prepare it in time of peace? Has it not been absolutely dismantled since 1926, and could not steps be taken to prepare it?

Mr. Shakespeare

It is a very big question. I think I can say simply, that in time of peace this dockyard is surplus to our requirements, and that in time of war there are docking facilities available for our purpose in the West of England and on the North-East coast of Ireland.

Major Lloyd George

Ought not this question be reconsidered, in view of the importance of the approaches to our Western ports in time of war, and bearing in mind that in the last War we had this vital area of Pembroke Dock and also places in Ireland which are no longer available?

Mr. Shakespeare

All these questions were taken into account when we considered the question of re-opening, and, admittedly, the points raised by the hon. and gallant Gentleman were factors in favour of re-opening. On the other hand, other factors, into which the House will not expect me to go, are, in our view, decisive against re-opening.

Mr. Grant-Ferris

May I draw my hon. Friend's attention to the large number of young people in this area? What steps are the Government taking to see that they receive adequate training in case the dockyard should be re-opened?