HC Deb 12 December 1985 vol 88 cc780-1W
Miss Fookes

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what criteria he will use in assessing the bid announced by the management of Her Majesty's dockyard, Devonport on Monday 10 December for the contract to undertake dockyard services at Devonport.

Mr. Heseltine

As the House knows, companies continue to show a growing interest in the future management of the dockyards. Additionally the managing director of Devonport dockyard, Mr. David Johnston, with a small team of managers at the dockyard, including serving royal naval officers as well as civil servants, have now formed a company, Devonport Dockyard Ltd., and have put together an outline plan to bid in competition with other companies for the contract to manage Devonport dockyard.

The management's proposal is fully in line with our overall policy of promoting competition and seeking increased efficiency in the way the dockyards are run. It has been made clear to the management team that its bid will have to compete on exactly the same terms as that of any other company, and that the criteria which will be used by my Department to evaluate the Devonport management response to the invitation to tender will be no different from those which will apply to other bidders. Such an assurance has been given to all those companies which continue to show an interest in managing the dockyards.

Before agreeing that the team should proceed with this initiative I considered the question of possible conflict of interest. However, I am satisfied that there is a broad identity of interest for those concerned, both as managers of the dockyard and as potential bidders for the contract. In both capacities, for example, they have a commitment to supporting the Fleet, to increased efficiency and to the future well-being of the work force. I have, however, made it clear to the managing director that work on developing his team's bid will not be allowed to conflict with his prime responsibility for the operation of the dockyard up to 1 April 1987, nor with the requirement to make information available to other interested companies. Assurances have been given to companies on these matters and we shall be keeping the arrangements under close review.

The Government welcome this new interest and regard it as a strong sign of personal commitment by local management to a secure and promising future for the dockyard.