HC Deb 08 July 1959 vol 608 cc1328-9
1. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the construction and future service of ships such as H.M.S. "Ashanti"; by whom this ship was built; who provided the gas and steam turbines, air conditioning, vacuum cleaners, floor polishers and other equipment; and what are the prospects for all other such ships now being built.

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

H.M.S. "Ashanti" is the first of a new class of general purpose frigates of all welded construction. She is being built by Messrs. Yarrow and Co. of Glasgow, with steam and gas turbine propulsion machinery by the Metropolitan-Vickers Electrical Co. of Manchester. Auxiliary machinery and other equipment is being supplied by many other contractors in accordance with the normal practice.

These ships are designed to operate anywhere in the world, but their air conditioning makes them particularly suitable for operation in tropical climates. Two more of the class have been laid down. This form of propulsion will also be used in the guided missile destroyers under construction.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Does the hon. Gentleman agree that as a result of that scientific and engineering work we are now leading the world in this kind of development?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

It is true that this is an original form of propulsion and that we are certainly in the forefront of the world with it.

2. Mr. Ellis Smith

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty if he will make a statement on the experience gained in ship propulsion by the combination of gas and steam turbines, and on its future use; by whom the research work has been carried out; and what financial arrangements were made.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

H.M.S. "Ashanti", at present under construction, is the first ship to be fitted with combined steam turbine and gas turbine main machinery; there is thus no operational experience with this form of propulsion so far, but all novel features of this system have been subjected to extensive shore trials. The machinery has been developed by the Admiralty assisted by the Yarrow-Admiralty Research Department and the Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company working under contract to the Admiralty for this purpose.

Mr. Ellis Smith

Now that we have established the facts, will the hon. Gentleman agree to use his influence with the Government so that the result of this scientific and engineering work can be carried out in the locality where it has been pioneered? Is he aware that within a fifty-mile radius of Manchester there are more than 100,000 unemployed, including 28,000 on Merseyside? Will he see that this kind of work is provided for the men and women who can do it?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

It is true that Metropolitan Vickers, or Associated Electrical Industries, the parent firm, has been in the forefront of this development, but it would not be right for an Admiralty spokesman to say that by virtue of that it should have the monopoly of producing machinery of this sort. However, it is true that orders have been or are likely to be placed with the firm because of the pioneering work which it has done.