HC Deb 04 February 1992 vol 203 cc123-4
8. Mr. Speller

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will visit factories in north Devon which have been involved in defence contracts and seek to maintain this link.

Mr. Alan Clark

I should be very happy to do so.

Mr. Speller

I thank my right hon. Friend for his brisk but satisfactory reply. Will he please bear in mind the fact that it is essential that, where possible, we buy from British manufacturers across the country? May I commend to him a visit to north Devon and ask him to remember Coutant's of Ilfracombe and firms like High Temperature of South Molton, Hobart's, CQC and others? It is important that we retain these excellent companies even if some of the swords become ploughshares.

Mr. Clark

My hon. Friend makes a very good point. All the firms that he has mentioned contribute to the employment of the 130,000 people who are directly concerned with the defence industry. He did not mention Cray Marine, a firm in his constituency that provides the Torpedo-handling system for the type 23s. That firm will have welcomed the recent announcement of an order for a further three of these ships.

Mr. Ashdown

When the Minister visits north Devon will he consider the matter of British equipment and pay a visit to RAF Chivenor, which is waiting for the SAR Westland helicopters that have been on order for two years? The Minister promised that this order would be taken care of shortly after the new year. Surely that time has arrived. The Minister should remember that Westland will hold its annual general meeting on 13 February. An order announced now would not only fulfil the SAR requirements but also be very welcome to Westland.

Mr. Clark

I am glad to confirm that an announcement about this order will be made shortly. Important though the right hon. Gentleman is, he is not yet in a position to issue invitations to visit Royal Air Force stations.

Dame Janet Fookes

If my right hon. Friend is going on a tour I hope that he will not forget our mutual home territory on Plymouth, which is very anxious indeed to maintain close links with the armed services. It has provided excellent service in the past, and wishes to do so in the future.

Mr. Clark

I visit Plymouth every weekend.

Forward to