HL Deb 17 May 1976 vol 370 cc1162-4

2.45 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will make a Statement about the closure of, and consequent loss of jobs at, the communications centres at Bushmills and Bishops Court in Northern Ireland.


My Lords, as part of the Civil Aviation Authority's programme for the modernisation of the air traffic control system, data derived from radar equipment at Bishops Court will from late 1977 be fed directly to the Control Centres at Prestwick and West Drayton. I am advised by the Civil Aviation Authority that this will involve the redeployment of 22 professional staff and the redundancy of one clerical assistant. The Authority's long-range navigational aid radio station at Bushmills was designed primarily for aviation use, but this requirement lapsed at the end of 1974, since when only two staff have been needed for its upkeep. Its marine use does not justify its retention, and transmissions from the station will cease on 30th September 1976.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Lord for his reply, may I ask whether the Government will bear in mind that, although the numbers of unemployed may be very small, taken with the decision to close the defence establishments in Northern Ireland it continues a situation where the Government's will to win is being doubted? This is one of the areas to which the Government can give employment. It is an area where unemployment is running at twice the national average—in places it is as high as 40 per cent. May I further ask the noble Lord whether the Government are aware that this particular action is giving comfort to those who are attempting revolution? Would the Government reconsider the decision to close down these stations?


I think, my Lords, that the considerations put forward by the noble Viscount should be taken in conjunction with the need to rationalise and modernise the communications system. This is the basic requirement. I think the more general questions put forward by the noble Viscount go considerably wider than this decision.