§ Mr. Latham
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is in a position to announce any measures affecting Royal Navy establishments arising from his statement to the House on 25 July 1990.
§ Mr. Archie Hamilton
Detailed work on the future structure of the Royal Navy support area is continuing. At this stage in our considerations, however, it has already become clear that it will be possible to achieve significant savings through rationalisation of some functions. As a consequence of these measures, it is our intention to close, by 31 March 1992, the RN leadership school—HMS Royal Arthur—the RN Diesel repair depot, Blackbrock Farm, and, within the next 12 to 18 months, the accommodation and administrative headquarters at Furse house, London—HMS St. Vincent.
The leadership training functions presently carried out at HMS Royal Arthur will be transferred to an existing training centre at Whale island, Portsmouth—HMS Excellent. The resulting collocation of leadership training with management and divisional training will produce savings in terms of service and civilian manpower, as well as other running costs. The closure of HMS Vincent should produce worthwhile savings in similar areas, as well as receipts from the disposal of Furse house, assuming that no other defence use for the building is found. There will, however, be some costs in terms of lodging and subsistence allowances for those personnel currently accommodated in the establishment.
An independent review of the strategy for the repair and overhaul of RN marine diesel engines has concluded that there is no need to retain the in-house repair facility at Blackbrook Farm. Significant savings will be achieved through putting the whole repair task to industry, which already deals with some 70 per cent. of the work.
Consultations with the trade unions will take place, in accordance with normal department practice, and we hope to be able to offer alternative employment to the majority of the civilian staff affected by these closures.