HC Deb 07 March 1962 vol 655 cc382-3
17. Dame Irene Ward

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty whether future building of nuclear submarines will be subject to tender, and not concentrated at Barrow.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

Until our future programme of nuclear submarine building has been settled, I cannot say where these boats will be built.

Dame Irene Ward

But could I have my hon. Friend's assurance that, when the programme has been settled, there will be no special concentration of the nuclear power technique in the west coast of England or in any other part of the country, but that the "know-how" will be properly spread over all areas and there will be fair tendering at all shipyards so that everyone may share in what seems likely to be a new technique for nuclear propulsion in its marine application?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I do not think that I could possibly give an undertaking that we shall spread the building of nuclear-powered warships and submarines all round the shipyards of this country.

Dame Irene Ward

Well, to the Tyne, then.

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Submarine building has always been a rather specialised undertaking, and we have to bear this in mind when considering where we shall build future submarines.

Mr. Burden

Will my hon. Friend give an undertaking that on this occasion he will resist the blamdishments of my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) and base this building, or at least a fair share of it, in the Royal Naval Dockyards, particularly Chatham, which is well equipped to carry out the work?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

That supplementary question shows that I was very wise in not giving a preference to one area over another.

Mr. Willis

Can the hon. Gentleman say when consideration of this programme by the Admiralty is likely to be concluded?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

Our nuclear submarine programme is a very expensive project, and it may take some time before it is decided exactly what it will be in future years.