HC Deb 15 July 1971 vol 821 cc691-2
1. Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the latest position with regard to employment, average earnings and overtime working in Royal Naval Dockyards.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. Peter Kirk)

The employment position remains as forecast in the Defence White Paper of 1969, The average earnings of adult males during a typical week in June was £30.03 per week including 2.1 hours of overtime.

Mr. Judd

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there is great anxiety in the dockyards at reports that more work is being put out to private contract when job opportunities are falling in the yards? Is he further aware that, because of the deplorably low level of earnings for many of these working men in the yards, there is no hope of their taking home anything near a living wage unless there are reasonable prospects for overtime, which are being cut back every day?

Mr. Kirk

We have put one submarine out to contract. Nothing else is planned to go out to contract at the moment. In relation to the absence of overtime. there is a problem about the balance of trades and I am discussing this with the trade unions. I hope that we shall be able to resolve it satisfactorily.

Mr. John Morris

Why was this submarine put out to contract? Was there consultation with the unions in the dockyards before it was done? Is not one of the problems of putting refits out to contract the difficulty in advance of estimating the work to be done and the pricing?

Mr. Kirk

I had full consultation with the trade unions before the submarine was put out to contract, and I kept them informed. There was no way in which we could accommodate this vessel in the Royal Dockyards. The problem was once more that of the balance of trades, which has been one of the great difficulties of the yards. I am not wholly satisfied with the way things are, but I am doing the best I can to rectify the situation.

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