HC Deb 24 March 1987 vol 113 cc145-7
1. Mr. Fallon

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many jobs in the north-east are (a) directly or (b) indirectly dependent on the Trident programme.

6. Mr. Hirst

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the number of jobs in Scotland which are directly and indirectly dependent on the Trident programme.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement (Mr. Archie Hamilton)

Mr. Speaker, may I first apologise for the absence of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State, who is on an official visit to the Far East?

Estimates of the total number of United Kingdom jobs dependent on the Trident programme are not made on a regional basis. However, it is estimated that the Trident programme will create on average 7,500 direct and 6,000 indirect jobs over its procurement period. Construction work alone in Scotland on Trident facilities will directly employ over 2,500 in its peak year.

Mr. Fallon

Is my hon. Friend aware that about 800 men at Cleveland Bridge in my constituency have been working on the cradle construction for the Trident programme and that they are bidding for further work at Faslane and Coulport?

Is he further aware that the number one fear in Darlington is that an incoming Labour Government might cancel the Trident programme and put an end to that work?

Mr. Hamilton

I am aware of my hon. Friend's constituency interest. We must bear in mind that, although there are many direct jobs, a significant number of indirect jobs are also involved. I am sure that my hon. Friend's constituents are as concerned as anybody that the programme should be continued.

Mr. Hirst

I am grateful for my hon. Friend's reply. Does he not find it remarkable that the Opposition parties are prepared, not only to gamble with the defence of this country, but to abandon a project upon which thousands of jobs depend, especially in the west of Scotland?

Mr. Hamilton

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. About 4,500 Ministry of Defence civilian employees currently work on the deterrent at Coulport, Faslane and Rosyth. If it comes to cancelling Polaris and Trident, the work for 2,000 employees will be lost in Rosyth unless it is replaced by other nuclear submarine work.

Mr. Douglas

Will the Minister reflect that his strictures about job losses, particularly in Scotland, come ill from his mouth, when his Government. have lost nearly 20,000 jobs in Scotland because of the mismanagement of North sea oil?

Mrs. Kellett-Bowman

Ask a question about Trident.

Mr. Douglas

They will lose a lot more with Trident. On the question of Trident, will the Minister confirm that the construction work at Rosyth is not exclusively for Trident but is for dual-streaming and could be used for SSNs and SSKs?

Mr. Hamilton

On the second part of the hon. Gentleman's question, it is certainly true that it could be so used, but a reason why we are having to put in those facilities is the much larger size of Trident submarines. Therefore, they need extra facilities.

The Government cannot be blamed for the fall in the price of oil across the world and the decline of the North sea oil industry. The Opposition could be blamed for having policies that will destroy jobs in Scotland.

Mr. McWilliam

Will the Minister say how many jobs will be put at risk, particularly in the Royal Ordnance factories, at Swan Hunter, and at Marconi, because of the Trident's impact on the defence procurement programme?

Mr. Hamilton

No jobs are being put at risk in that direction at the moment. We have a large ordering programme.

Mr. Franks

My hon. Friend has referred to job losses in the north-east and Scotland. Will he note that in Barrow over 4,000 people, or 30 per cent. of the work force, are currently employed on the Trident programme, and that by 1990 75 per cent., or more than 9,000 people, will be employed on that programme? What are the prospects for those jobs if an incoming Labour or alliance/Labour Government cancel Trident overnight? What will 9,000 of my constituents do?

Mr. Hamilton

I am afraid that the impact on my hon. Friend's constituency will be devastating, and whatever plans there are to substitute that work they will take so long to come through that in the short-term those people will find themselves on the street.

Mr. Ashdown

Does the Minister realise that whatever jobs are tied to Trident in defined communities in Britain they are as nothing to the jobs that have been and will be lost as a result of the cut in conventional expenditure in the rest of Britain's defence industries? Does he realise that 1,800 jobs have already been lost at Westland as a result of the Government——

Mr. Speaker

Order. That may well be, but the question is about Trident.

Mr. Ashdown

Does the Minister realise that the Trident expenditure has already cost 1,800 jobs in Yeovil and will cost more, and that the people of Yeovil have nothing to thank Trident for, because we are bearing the first fruits of this bitter pill?

Mr. Hamilton

There is no direct relationship between Trident and the orders at Westland.

Sir Antony Buck

Does my hon. Friend agree that the cancellation of Trident would, obviously, be serious for job losses? If Trident were cancelled, does he agree that it would be even more serious in terms of the destabilisation of NATO and our position in it?

Mr. Hamilton

I could not agree more with my hon. and learned Friend. There is no doubt that our commitment to our independent deterrent is, indeed, important.

Mr. Denzil Davies

The Minister knows well that 95 per cent. of the people employed in the defence industries in the north-east and Scotland are producing non-nuclear defence equipment. With the cuts that must come in the defence budget falling on non-nuclear defence equipment to pay for Trident, far more people will lose their jobs than those now employed on Trident. Why does the Minister not admit those facts?

Mr. Hamilton

It is difficult to admit that when the cost of Trident is falling.

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