HC Deb 19 May 1981 vol 5 cc141-2
3. Mr. Colin Shepherd

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the current arrangements for the servicing of Her Majesty's Polaris submarines.

Mr. Nott

Despite the difficulties which have been caused by the Civil Service industrial action, essential services have been—and will continue to be—maintained.

Mr. Shepherd

Is my right hon. Friend aware that the recent rumpus at Faslane gave great cause for concern? If the credibility of our nuclear deterrent is to be maintained, surely it is essential that our Polaris submarines be at sea and on station at all times. Will he give the House and the country that assurance?

Mr. Nott

I can assure my hon. Friend that we shall not allow the operations of the strategic nuclear deterrent to be adversely affected by the strike. We shall keep our submarines at sea even if we have to use naval personnel to do so.

Sir William Clark

In view of the recent report that 12 sailors managed to service a submarine, thus replacing some 50 civil servants, is my right hon. Friend satisfied that there is not overmanning in the civil establishment at naval dockyards?

Mr. Nott

I should be foolish to suggest that there was not overmanning in some parts of my Department. [Laughter.] Perhaps my hon. Friend will give me support during the course of the debate. We shall ensure that the operations of our strategic nuclear submarines are kept in being with the minimum number of necessary personnel.

Mr. Skinner

Is the Minister aware that, if the Government paid those who service the Polaris submarines the same that will be paid to those in the Armed Forces—or better still what will be paid to Members of Parliament and Ministers—following the recent announcement, they would get the job done extremely satisfactorily?

Mr. Nott

Much depends on which rank the hon. Gentleman is talking about, the relevant circumstances and an individual's skill. The circumstances vary from person to person, whether the individual is in the Services or is part of the MoD.