§ 14. Mr. Denham
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when Her Majesty's Government expect to make an announcement on the future of the royal dockyards.
§ Mr. Rifkind
It is not yet possible to make an announcement on where the refitting of Trident submarines will take place.
We have received offers from Devonport Management Limited and from Babcock Thorn Limited for developing facilities for nuclear refitting at Devonport dockyard and Rosyth dockyard respectively. We are at present concerned that the prices quoted in the offers may significantly understate the likely eventual cost of the work. Before we can decide between them we need to be absolutely sure that we can be confident of the prices quoted. We are not yet in this position.
We shall be scrutinising these offers, and studying other related matters further, before coming to a final decision, which we hope to do as soon as possible.
§ 17. Mr. McKelvey
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of Rosyth naval dockyard.
§ Mr. Rifkind
The Government's aim is to achieve a healthy competitive structure to ensure that the future interests of the taxpayer are safeguarded. The Royal Navy will have a continuing and substantial programme of refit work for its surface fleet of frigates, destroyers, carriers, mine counter measure vessels and other ships, as well as its submarine fleet. Although the private shipbuilders can and will continue to do some refit work, they of themselves cannot ensure effective competition. It is through competition that refit prices will provide the best value to the Royal Navy and protect the taxpayer.
As I indicated to the hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), the prices quoted in the tenders for nuclear refitting at Rosyth and Devonport may significantly understate the likely eventual cost of the work. The scope and nature of nuclear refitting work are such that it must be allocated to one dockyard. However, for the reasons of competition in other work which I have described, we plan to continue with two royal dockyards.