HC Deb 26 January 1982 vol 16 cc732-3
Mr. Greville Janner

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he now expects to decide whether to cancel the order for five 909 (GWS30) Sea Dart area air defence guided weapons systems to be fitted on type 42 destroyers.

Mr. Pattie

Discussions are currently being held with a view to converting the existing contract for five complete 909 radars to one which will provide spares for support of the Fleet. Assuming that these are successful, I hope to be in a position to take a decision shortly.

Mr. Janner

I welcome the Minister's assurance, but is he aware of the difficulties that the delay is causing to the talented, experienced and highly skilled work force at both the Marconi plants in my constituency and how anxious those people are to know that their jobs will be secure as a result of firm orders in connection with this or other contracts?

Mr. Pattie

I am indeed aware of what the hon. and learned Gentleman says. I assure him and the House that these decisions will not be unnecessarily prolonged.

Mr. Farr

Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that the works team has built up a great fund of expertise and that it would be sad for the nation if that expertise were to vanish through lack of work?

Mr. Pattie

I agree with my hon. Friend about the excellent record of the Marconi work force. That fact is being taken into account in our deliberations.

Mr. James Lamond

In view of the exchanges that have just taken place about employment for people on defence contracts, was it not rather naive of the Secretary of State to suggest that if disarmament talks were successful there would be no difficulty in fulfilling our side of the bargain? Is it not obvious that long-term planning is necessary if we are to enter into meaningful disarmament talks, including the meeting of the United Nations which starts in June in New York?

Mr. Pattie

I was under the impression that my right hon. Friend had made clear his response to the previous question. I am sorry that the hon. Gentleman could not follow it.