HC Deb 24 November 1992 vol 214 cc723-4
1. Mr. Devlin

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what support services of the Royal Navy and Army are due for relocation; and what locations are being considered.

The Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Mr. Archie Hamilton)

The support services of the Royal Navy and the Army are being rationalised to reflect the restructuring of the front line. That will involve the concentration of that activity to fewer locations.

Mr. Devlin

Why, when considering new locations for the rationalisations, is there an extraordinary tendency for them to be in the south and west of the country, whereas Scotland and the north-east of England, which have traditionally provided the best recruiting areas and the highest levels of staff retention, and which are also the areas with higher than average unemployment, are the very areas that always seem to face the brunt of the cuts first?

Mr. Hamilton

When we rationalise activities we have to take into account where those activities are already taking place. If we did not do that and relocated concentrations of work forces in different places, we would have to make all the employees involved redundant. If we locate them where there is an existing facility, people working there provide a useful core for the new headquarters and it is then not necessary to make them all redundant.

Ms. Rachel Squire

Will the Minister confirm that for the past seven years Rosyth royal dockyard has been given repeated and specific assurances that it would obtain the future submarine refitting work? Will he give his promise that that will in fact happen?

Mr. Hamilton

No; but I can promise that the position on the dockyards and the naval bases is being reviewed, and we hope to have a decision by the end of the year.

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