asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty by how much the cost of the work carried out at Pembroke Dockyard on H.M.S. "Capetown," H.M.S. "President," and the R.F.A. "Oleander," exceeded the estimate in each case; whether, in view of the situation as disclosed by the figures and the recommendations of the Geddes Committee, the Admiralty will reconsider the decision to maintain Pembroke?
As far as can be ascertained, the amounts by which the cost of the work has exceeded the original estimate so far are
These excesses have been contributed to by a number of causes, including additional work ordered, changes in wages and cost of materials, delays due to strikes and more urgent work, and generally to labour conditions during the last three years. These conditions, however, affect the work of all the dockyards, and the Admiralty are of opinion that the unsatisfactory results at Pembroke must be attributed mainly to inadequate output of work by the men employed there, and have called serious attention to the necessity for improvement. The reasons for the decision of His Majesty's Government with regard to the retention of Pembroke Dockyard have been given in previous answers and statements, to which I would refer my Noble and gallant Friend.
Is it not obvious that an extra cost of £180,000 is a very serious matter in these days, and is it not really better that the whole question of Pembroke dockyard should be reconsidered forthwith?
I quite agree as to the serious increase, but I have nothing to add to my answer and to my previous statements.
Was the decision to carry on with this work arrived at by the Admiralty or the Cabinet Secretariat?
It was arrived at by the Government in view of national interests.
Not by the Admiralty?
I have already said in this House that, as far as the Admiralty is concerned, we can do without it.
Can the hon. and gallant Gentleman say who is responsible for supervising men who have turned out an inadequate output?
The Director of Dockyards under the Board of Admiralty, and we are taking fairly drastic steps in regard to that.
Was the view of the Admiralty frankly put before the Government?
Yes, certainly it was, and the question has been debated in this House, and when I introduced Vote 10 the other day I gave the full national reasons. I do not believe it would pay to do away with Pembroke in the present state of unemployment.