§ 22. Mr. Callaghan
asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty what are his plans for allocating naval vessels for refit to Cardiff, Newport and Barry in the near future.
§ Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing
We have no plans for allocating naval vessels for refit to Cardiff, Newport and Barry. We invite competitive tenders for work of this kind if we are unable to arrange it in the Royal Dockyards. Two Cardiff firms tendered unsuccessfully for an R.F.A. refit which is due to start shortly in South Wales. The ship-repairers in the Cardiff-Newport-Barry area will be given the opportunity to tender for the refit of two more of our R.F.A.s shortly.
§ Mr. Callaghan
With due deference to you, Mr. Speaker, is the Civil Lord aware that the working strength of the ship-repairing industry in Cardiff has declined by one-third in the last four years and of the remainder 13 per cent. are unemployed? Will he, therefore, give special consideration to allocating some ship on competitive tender for repair, lest this industry should decay and men be attracted to more stable employment?
§ Mr. Orr-Ewing
I judge from the hon. Gentleman's opening words that he realises that responsibility for the well-being of the ship-repairing and shipbuilding industry rests with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport now. We shall certainly make sure that ship-repairing firms in Cardiff are given the opportunity to tender. I hope that, perhaps, their tenders will be so competitive in the future that they will win awards.