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Dockyards (Select Committee's Reports)

Volume 497: debated on Wednesday 19 March 1952

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34, 35 and 36.

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty (1) what action he has taken or proposes to take on the 8th and 9th Reports from the Select Committee on Estimates;

(2) what action he proposes to take on paragraphs 21 and 75 (6) of the 8th and 9th Reports of the Select Committee on Estimates which deals with Her Majesty's Dockyards;

(3) what action he proposes to take on paragraphs 12 to 23 of the 8th and 9th Reports of the Select Committee on Estimates.

As my hon. and gallant Friend said in winding-up the debate on the Navy Estimates, a number of the recommendations of the Select Committee on Estimates in their report on the dockyards are still under consideration, and I must ask the hon. Member to await the reply which the Admiralty will shortly be sending to the Select Committee.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that it is some time ago since this Select Committee's Report was published, and I should have thought that ample time had been given to enable its recommendations to be considered; and in view of the uneasiness that exists because of so much rate-cutting in the past and the favouritism that exists with regard to the merit scheme, is it not time in the national interest that action should be taken?

Some of the recommendations were very complicated and some very good. The Admiralty have been going very thoroughly into the whole Report, and it will not be long before we write to the Estimates Committee. I understand that it would be improper for me to give orally to the House information which has first to be sent in writing by the Admiralty to the Select Committee on Estimates.

In view of the fact that many of the recommendations contained in this Select Committee's Report merely repeat recommendations made by the Committee as long ago as 1927 to the Admiralty, and pigeon-holed by the Admiralty, does not the right hon. Gentleman think that there should be the most earnest consideration given to these recommendations; and can he give an assurance that there will be a full discussion and statement in the reply which is made by his Department?

The fact remains that these recommendations came from the present Select Committee on Estimates, and it would be very discourteous of me not to reply first to the Committee in writing. I can assure the hon. Member that if he wishes to discuss our reply to the Report in full I will, when the time comes, certainly make recommendations to the proper quarter.

May I ask the First Lord of the Admiralty to maintain the attitude that it is against the whole procedure of the House of Commons for any statement to be made in the House before a reply is made to the Select Committee on Estimates by the Department concerned?