HC Deb 26 June 1963 vol 679 cc1323-5
22. Dr. Dickson Mabon

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty when and where construction of the third nuclear-propelled hunter-killer submarine for the Royal Navy will begin.

Mr. Hay

Fabrication of components has already started for the third nuclear-propelled hunter-killer submarine ordered for construction at Barrow.

Dr. Mabon

Is it not a very unsound policy to concentrate the building of the nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines and to allocate both pairs of the Polaris vessels in the north-west of England? Is it not in the national interest to try to see the spread of these contracts in the different shipbuilding rivers of the country so that the technical ability and "know-how" of providing these vessels, both in war and in peace, will be spread more widely?

Mr. Hay

The hon. Member has perhaps not appreciated—as frankly I had not until I learned about it—that building these submarines is wholly different from the technique used in the building of a conventional vessel. In fact, many parts are fabricated well away from the shipyards in question and are assembled on the site. For example, orders of about £1 million for component parts will be placed in Scotland, and other parts of the country will also benefit.

Mr. Willis

Would it not be a good thing if these special techniques were also available to be used on the Clyde, a very great shipbuilding area?

Mr. Hay

It is not for me to agree or to disagree with the hon. Member about that, but certainly I know that my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport has been very interested indeed in trying to get shipyards generally to adopt some more modern techniques in respect of some parts of their work.

Mr. Critchley

Is the Minister aware that three of these submarines are not enough to meet the future needs of the Royal Navy?

Mr. Grimond

The Minister's answer underlines the anxiety which is felt. It is just because it is a new technique that considerable anxiety is felt that Messrs. Scotts have not been asked to take part in this new development. Will he give an assurance that this does not mean that all future building of atomic submarines will be confined to two yards? Will he give an assurance that Messrs, Scotts are in fact sharing in the sub-contracting of which he spoke?

Mr. Hay

I cannot answer the second part of that supplementary question without notice. Answering the first part of the question, we look at each of the orders on their merits.

Dr. Mabon

On a point of order. I give notice that I should like to raise the matter on the Adjournment.