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Hydrographic Surveys

Volume 892: debated on Tuesday 13 May 1975

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on which hydro-graphical surveys are being undertaken and where.

Full details of hydrographic surveys are given in the annual report by the Hydrographer of the Navy. Priority is given to surveys in the waters around the United Kingdom. These surveys are made for defence and commercial shipping purposes and special attention is also being given to the requirements of our energy programme, for example in surveys of tow-out routes for moving rigs.

I thank my hon. Friend for his reply. Is he able to give a progress report on this important work and tell us the financial implications?

The work of the Hydro-graphic Study Group has been completed and its report is under consideration, but the House will appreciate that I cannot at this stage anticipate the decisions which may be taken as a result of that report. The finance for hydrographic work not for defence purposes is a matter for interdepartmental consultation, but clearly it cannot be financed out of the limited defence budget.

Does the Minister agree that the resources available for hydro-graphic survey are totally inadequate? Will he please consult the Secretary of State for Energy, who will draw his attention to the fact that most of the waters around this country have not been surveyed this century?

The fleet of the Hydrographer of the Royal Navy is manned by professional men of the highest calibre and they are meeting more than adequately the programme which has been provided for them. The size of the programme in the future is a matter for consultation between various Government Departments.