§ Mr. Gordon Brown (Dumfermline, East)
I beg to ask leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that should have urgent consideration, namely,
decisions threatening 1,300 jobs and future naval work at the Rosyth dockyard.The matter is specific because, on Friday, without prior consultation and without explanation or justification, the Ministry of Defence announced the transfer of refitting work on the submarine Conqueror from the royal dockyard at Rosyth, thereby depriving the site of vital programmed work and threatening the security of hundreds of jobs. The day before, with equal disregard for their obligations to consult, Ministers announced at a press conference, instead of in the House, that Babcock Thorn was to take over the private running of the Rosyth dockyard, thereby betraying a promise made on 17 November that no further decisions on privatisation would be made until the work force had been consulted.
The matter is important because these announcements, taken together, will, if implemented, unilaterally impose new working conditions on 6,000 civil servants forcibly transferred to the private sector, will threaten up to 1,300 jobs in an area of ever-increasing unemployment and will put at risk the dockyard's service to the nation. The House is entitled to know the secret details of private contracts which are being entered into to transfer work and jobs from Rosyth.
The matter is also important because decisions are being made by the Ministry of Defence which bypass the statutory consultation process imposed by the Dockyard Services Act 1986 and explicitly accepted by the Secretary of State for Defence only a few days ago, when he stated that the next stage of decision-making would not be entered until he was satisfied that consultation with the work force was complete. What sort of consultation is it that begins with the disclosure of the conclusions of that consultation and completely pre-empts it? In approaching a period of open consultation with all the prejudices of a closed mind, and without even reporting to the House, the Ministry of Defence is recklessly imposing franchise arrangements, privatising the running of our royal dockyards, which clearly subordinate the interests of national security to those of commercial gain. The Secretary of State for Defence has acted in a hasty an underhand manner to the detriment of the long-term interests of the Navy and the defence of this country. He should be forced to answer immediately in the House.
§ Mr. Speaker
The hon. Member asks leave to move the Adjournment of the House, under Standing Order No. 20, for the purpose of discussing a specific and important matter that he believes should have urgent consideration, namely,decisions threatening 1,300 jobs and future naval work at the Rosyth dockyard.I have listened with care to the hon. Member, but I regret that I do not consider that the matter he has raised is appropriate for discussion under Standing Order No. 20 and I cannot, therefore, submit his application to the House. However, I hope that he will have other opportunities to raise this matter before the Christmas recess.