§ 27. Mr. Edward Evans
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty what official contracts for shipbuilding and ship-repairing have been placed with firms in the port of Lowestoft during the past twelve months; what contracts have been entered into for the present financial year; and whether, having regard to unemployment in these industries, he will take steps to ensure for them a reasonable share of Admiralty contracts.
§ The Civil Lord of the Admiralty (Mr. T. G. D. Galbraith)
During the past twelve months a contract has been placed for the docking and refit of an oil lighter. For the reasons I gave to the hon. Member during the debate on 19th June, I can hold out little hope of sufficient contract work for the Royal Navy becoming available in the immediate future to enable further work to be allocated to Lowestoft.
§ Mr. Evans
Is the Civil Lord aware that his Answer will be received with very deep disappointment not only in Lowestoft but in the smaller shipyards generally? Is he aware of the importance of Admiralty contracts to the smaller shipyards and of the very fine service that Lowestoft in particular has rendered to the Admiralty in the past, particularly since the war? Will not he agree that as our order books do not extend very far—they are empty beyond 1959—the Admiralty ought to think a great deal about it because this may lead to the closing of some very important auxiliary works there?
§ Mr. Galbraith
I am very sympathetic towards places like Lowestoft which have in the past relied to a certain extent on Admiralty contracts, but, with the reduction in the amount of money the Admiralty has, I am afraid there is nothing more that we can do. We have great difficulty, but we try to spread the small amount of money around as fairly as we can.