HC Deb 22 February 1968 vol 759 cc641-2
Q2. Mr. Chichester-Clark

asked the Prime Minister what proposals he has to co-ordinate the work of the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Economic Affairs in areas of the United Kingdom where cuts in defence establishments affect substantially the overall economy of the region concerned.

The Prime Minister

My right hon. Friends already work closely together on these matters and no new arrangements are needed, Sir.

Mr. Chichester-Clark

Is the Prime Minister aware that the former head of the D.E.A. gave me a pledge that he would set my mind at rest about the future of the Coastal Command station in Northern Ireland, which is now being closed in an area which has practically the highest unemployment in the United Kingdom?

The Prime Minister

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that the decision followed the announcement in last July's Defence White Paper to phase out Shackletons. Despite his deep concern about the matter the hon. Gentleman would not wish to confine the Shackle-tons during this period to any areas except those where they are likely to give the best operational results, which I think are Kinloss and St. Mawgan.

Mr. Judd

Does my right hon. Friend agree that in areas such as the hon. Gentleman mentioned there are rich resources of manpower and equipment, and that we should plan carefully for a transition to peaceful production, particularly in dockyards?

The Prime Minister

My hon. Friend is quite right. That is what we are trying to do. He will be as delighted as the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) that for Northern Ireland the latest unemployment figure published today, seasonally corrected, is not only 1½ points lower than last autumn but lower than July, 1966, a great deal lower than July and January, 1964, and even more down compared with July and January, 1963. I am sure that we shall have an expression of some satisfaction from the hon. Gentleman.