HC Deb 27 October 1980 vol 991 cc113-4W
Mr. Carter-Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) why his statement on the possible reorganisation of Royal ordnance factories was inadequately distributed in relation to the work force, the Members of Parliament involved and the news media; why constituency Members of Parliament received notification more than 24 hours after the official announcement; why a different time scale was used for informing various branches of the news media; and if he will make a statement;

(2) if he will delay the decisions on the future of the Royal ordnance factories organisation until full information has been made available to and adequate discussion has taken place with representatives of all the employees at such factories; what legislation is required to change the structure of the organisation of Royal ordnance factories; and if he will make a statement;

(3) if he will produce additional information for all the workers in Royal ordnance factories regarding the privatisation of such factories; if he will distribute a brief giving all the possible alternatives and options involved in the study; and if he will make a statement:

(4) if he will include staff and industrial trade union representatives on his study group to examine the future of the Royal ordnance factories organisation; what is his attitude to such representation; and if he will make a statement.

(5) if the study group established to examine the future of the Royal ordinance factories organisation will visit each of the factories involved; if the study group will interview and take evidence from representatives of employees at all levels; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hayhoe:

I am satisfied that adequate arrangements were made for informing the work force, national officers of the staff side and trade unions, Members of Parliament and all branches of the media about the study group which is considering the possible reorganisation of the Royal ordnance factories. My noble Friend the Minister of State for Defence wrote to all constituency MPs on 22 September, the managing director informed the national officers of the staff associations and trade unions on 23 September and the factory directors informed their work forces the same day. No official communication with the media was made until two days later.

When my noble Friend met the representatives of the trade unions and staff associations representing ROF employees on 13 October they accepted his invitation to submit written evidence to the study group, and it was also mutually agreed that trade union and staff side representation on the group would not be appropriate.

It is not at present the intention of the study group as a whole to visit any of the Royal ordnance factories or to interview and take evidence from employees' representatives, though it may decide to do so. The majority of members of the group have visited Royal ordnance factories in the past. Royal ordnance factories employees will be kept informed of the progress of the study and their representatives consulted before any decisions are taken.

As far as the question of legislation is concerned, it is not possible to say whether any will be required until the study has been completed and a course of action identified.

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