§ 26. Mr. J. Griffiths
asked the Secretary of State for War whether it is still his intention to close down the Royal Ordnance factory at Pembrey; and what 394 plans he his to ensure that this factory, which is situated in an area scheduled under the Local Employment Act, is used to provide employment for the workers who would be rendered redundant by its closure.
§ Mr. Kirk
As my right hon. Friend explained to the right hon. Gentleman in his letter of 2nd December, we expect the factory to close at the end of next year. Some of our employees have already found new jobs in the area, and others will no doubt do so during the coming months. I regret that we cannot ensure that the factory will continue to provide employment after we have vacated it, but we intend to offer it for sale at about the time it closes, and we shall do everything possible to interest prospective purchasers who might use the property productively.
§ Mr. Griffiths
Does the hon. Gentleman realise that, of the 450 men now left but who will be without a job at the end of next year, more than half are over 50, each with at least a quarter of a century's service to the nation in war and peace? Does his Department not accept full responsibility for providing alternative employment? Is he aware that this site is the most important and valuable in Carmarthen County? Will he consult the Board of Trade as to whether the factory, with all its services, could be used as a trading estate?
§ Mr. Kirk
We are aware of the obligation towards our employees and we will do all we can to ensure that they are found jobs. We are already in touch with the Board of Trade and with the other Government Departments concerned. But this factory has to be decontaminated before it can be used for any other purpose.
§ Mr. Paget
This closure, I gather, is in addition to the closure of Woolwich and of other ordnance factories. In view of the state of equipment, particularly the artillery—which is, in the main, equipped with last war or even pre last war designs—the Army will be extremely surprised to hear that what we are suffering from, and have been suffering from, is an excess of capacity.
§ Lady Megan Lloyd George
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that a number of neighbouring communities, including the hard-hit town of Kidwelly, will be seriously affected by the closure and that there is no alternative work in the area, which is scheduled under the Local Employment Act? Will his Department at least treat this matter as one of urgency?
§ Mr. Griffiths
On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Owing to the importance of this matter to the County of Carmarthen and my constituency, and in view of the unsatisfactory nature of the reply, I beg to give notice that I shall seek to raise this matter on the Adjournment at the earliest opportunity.