HC Deb 12 October 1976 vol 917 cc227-8
7. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilian jobs will be affected by the decision, announced on 22nd July, to cut defence expenditure by a further £100 million; and which establishments will be most concerned.

32. Mr. Alan Clark

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilian jobs he expects to be lost as a result of the decision to cut defence expenditure by a further £100 million.

Dr. Gilbert

The further cut of £100 million in defence expenditure which formed part of the public expenditure reductions announced in July will be achieved mainly by rephasing works and equipment programmes. It will have no effect on the numbers of Service personnel and is not expected to have any significant effect on the numbers of MOD civilian staff either. There will, however, be some reduction of job opportunities for non-MOD employees, mainly in the construction industries.

Mr. Hooky

Would my hon. Friend care to answer the Question and say how many civilian employees will be involved? What active steps are being taken between his Department and the Department of Employment to transfer these people into useful manufacturing industry?

Dr. Gilbert

I am not in a position to give an answer on precisely how many people will be involved. That will be known only when we complete the review for 1977–78.

Mr. Clark

Would not the Minister agree that previous cut-backs had a significant effect on the total unemployed? There is great anxiety and apprehension among workpeople engaged in defence industries about what is in store for them. Can the Minister confirm what the Chancellor of the Exchequer let slip yesterday in an aside to the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) that the trade unions concerned had made representations to him expressing considerable fears about the future?

Dr. Gilbert

The hon. Member is quite right. My right hon. Friend and I have received representations from the trade union side of the defence contracting industries about what might be in store for them.