HC Deb 25 July 1978 vol 954 cc1339-40
1. Mr. Hooley

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what additional tasks are likely to fall upon the Hydrographer to the Royal Navy in the light of the discovery of oil west of the Shetlands.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. A. E. P. Duffy)

Reports about the discovery are still speculative; it is much too early to say whether any new requirements for hydrographic surveys would arise.

Mr. Hooley

Does my hon. Friend agree that the work of the Hydrographer and his staff is of very high quality but that he lacks the full resources to carry out all the duties that are being thrust upon him? What were the findings of the hydrographic review body, will these findings be published, and when will that body meet again to look at all the needs in this field over the next 12 months or so?

Mr. Duffy

I am much obliged to my hon. Friend for the compliment he pays the Hydrographer and his staff, which is fully merited. Some 30 per cent. of the waters around our coasts have been surveyed to full modern standards. In so far as there is a problem, it relates to civil requirements, and the problem of how to meet this additional requirement is currently being discussed by the other Departments involved. I cannot anticipate the outcome of that current study, but I should like to emphasise to the House that the problem under consideration is how to meet a civil requirement.

Mr. Marten

What are the constitutional limits which we claim around Rockall?

Mr. Duffy

That is another question.

Mr. Dalyell

In the absence of representatives from the Scottish National Party for this important Question about Shetland, would the Ministry of Defence write me a letter spelling out what a separate Scottish hydrographer would involve in terms of cost and the skilled resources that are at present invested at Taunton?

Mr. Duffy


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