HC Deb 25 July 1978 vol 954 cc1357-8
21. Mr. Loyden

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how much money will be spent in each of the regions of the United Kingdom on repairs and refits to Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessels.

Mr. Duffy

We expect to spend £12.5 million in the financial year 1978–79 on repairs and refits of Royal Fleet auxiliaries. Contracts will be placed following competitive tenders, and it is therefore not possible to forecast expenditure by region.

Mr. Loyden

Is my hon. Friend aware that the closure of the Western Ship-repairers yard on Merseyside, adding to the already high level of unemployment in that area, could in our opinion well have been avoided had work been fairly distributed among the yards of the United Kingdom? May I ask my hon. Friend whether, even at this late stage, anything can be done to get work to that yard?

Mr. Duffy

My hon. Friend will recall that I received a deputation led by him about this matter. Moreover, I paid two visits to Merseyside for the specific purpose of discussing this problem with him and his colleagues there. I pointed out then the need for defence funds to be employed in the most economic way and I mentioned the Ministry of Defence's financial accountability to Parliament. But I will do as my hon. Friend asks, and I shall be in touch with him.