HC Deb 20 July 1972 vol 841 cc892-3
22. Mr. Tilney

asked the Minister of State for Defence what orders he has in mind for the ship-repairing industry on Merseyside.

Mr. Kirk

A number of Royal Fleet Auxiliary refits are at present in prospect and ship-repairing firms in various areas, including Merseyside, have been, or will be, invited to tender for this work.

Mr. Tilney

Is my hon. Friend aware that the industry wants trade rather than aid and that we have good labour and now good management on Merseyside in the ship-repairing industry? Could he let the industry know over a period ahead that orders will be available?

Mr. Kirk

As I said, we have recently invited tenders for two RFA refits, and I imagine that there will be refits for 10 further vessels, for which we shall need tenders by the end of the year.

Mr. Heffer

Would the hon. Gentleman do his utmost to ensure that naval work is sent to Merseyside? Is he aware that there is now a crisis in ship repairing on Merseyside? More and more of the ship-repairing companies have moved away and there is a growth in unemployment, and the high unemployment figures do not help. Will he do his utmost to ensure not only that we get tenders but that naval work is sent to some of our ship-repairing yards?

Mr. Kirk

Warships are refitted in HM dockyards and the only warship to be refitted outside an HM dockyard is HMS "Otter", which is being refitted at Cammell Lairds. We have had nine RFA vessels refitted on Merseyside since 1969 at a total cost of £2½ million, so I do not think that Merseyside is losing out in this respect.

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