HC Deb 01 July 1959 vol 608 c443
14. Mr. Wall

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when it is intended to lay down a nuclear-powered missile-carrying submarine.

The Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty (Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing)

It has never been the practice to disclose information of this sort.

Mr. Wall

Is my hon. Friend aware that his Answer is most disappointing? Could he not give the House some information or at least some reasons to justify his reply? Would he not agree that such a vessel may be of vital importance to the Royal Navy and to this country in the future?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

It would be unwise to reveal naval plans several years before the keel of a ship is laid down. Our submarine plans have always carried a higher degree of security even than that demanded for surface ships. I agree with my hon. Friend that this type of vessel will be of supreme importance in the future to our navy. That is one of the reasons why it would be unwise to give any information at this stage.

Mr. Paget

Has not the Parliamentary Secretary said something which is very important when he said "several years before the keel is laid down". Is it really to be several years before we consider laying the hulls of nuclear-powered submarines of this character?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I cannot give any information on this subject at this stage. I have stated the general principle of not announcing future naval plans. This has prevailed for many years, if not for all time, and it would be a mistake to depart from it at this juncture.