asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many Portsmouth dockyard naval base employees were engaged in the preparations for the dispatch of the task force to the Falklands; how many such employees will be retained at the Portsmouth naval base when the dockyard is closed; and if he is satisfied that they will then be sufficient in numbers, range of skills and resources to ensure that a similar task force can be dispatched with equal speed and efficiency.
The number of Portsmouth naval base employees engaged on the preparation of the task force has varied according to day-to-day requirements, but at peak times the number reached a maximum of between 1,200 and 1,500: some 500 to 700 are at present employed on this task. On the closure of the dockyard, it is intended to retain some 1,300 civilians in the naval base. The future size of the dockyard must be primarily determined by the size and composition of the fleet, the repair policy and the long-term needs that these generate. The events of the last few weeks will be carefully studied in relation to future plans, but I am satisfied that with the resources available at the naval base and at the remaining dockyards, there will be sufficient capacity to meet our future commitments.