HC Deb 03 May 1950 vol 474 cc1679-81
35. Commander Noble

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what repair facilities will remain at Bermuda when His Majesty's dockyard is closed down.

41. Sir Peter Macdonald

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the proposed closing of the dockyards in Bermuda; and where are our ships, formerly using these dockyards, to be serviced and repaired.

The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. Walter Edwards)

On 22nd March, my hon. Friend informed the House that a delegation representing the Bermuda Government would shortly be visiting this country to discuss the question of closing the Bermuda Dockyard. The delegation reached London on 26th March and had discussions with the Prime Minister, the First Lord of the Admiralty, and the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

After the fullest and frankest discussion with the delegation, His Majesty's Government decided with regret that in all the circumstances there was no economically justifiable alternative to the complete closure of Bermuda Dockyard. The Dockyard has become uneconomical in many ways, and, in view of the necessity for extreme administrative economies, its closure must be accepted if the fighting efficiency of the Fleet is to remain unimpaired and if our resources are to be deployed effectively for the defence of the Commonwealth and Empire as a whole.

The composition and strength of the America and West Indies Squadron will not be affected by this decision, but in future the Squadron will be maintained by ships detached from the Home Fleet, whose refits and repairs will be carried out in the United Kingdom.

The Squadron will continue to use Bermuda as its headquarters; and the Commander-in-Chief's residence, together with the necessary recreational facilties for the ships' companies, will be retained in Bermuda. In this way the traditional association of the Royal Navy with Bermuda will be preserved.

Commander Noble

Is the Minister aware that he has not answered the Question which I asked? Will he say whether the floating dock will still remain there?

Mr. Edwards

No repair facilities will remain there.

Squadron-Leader Burden

Will the hon. Gentleman take into consideration the supplying of repair ships to that area, instead of using the obsolescent dockyards at Bermuda? Repair ships would be much more mobile and advantageous to modern conditions.

Mr. Edwards

All that has been considered. We feel we can administer the station by repairs from the home yards far better than by having repair ships going out there.

Captain Ryder

Has the Commonwealth been consulted in this matter?

Mr. Edwards

That is another question.