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Firefighters Dispute

Volume 405: debated on Monday 12 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many naval personnel man-hours have been expended as a result of the firefighters dispute; and what the estimated cost has been to the Royal Navy. [111308]

A complete answer will not be available until the military commitment to the firefighters dispute has ceased. To date, we estimate that more than 6.4 million hours have been spent in directly providing and training for life-saving cover, with estimated materiel costs approaching £5 million.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which Royal Navy vessels are unavailable for deployment as a result of the firefighters dispute; and what plans there are to relieve their crews. [111309]

The following vessels have the majority of their crews currently allocated to provide cover in the event of a firefighter; strike. This will prevent the vessels from deploying to previously programmed tasks until their crews are relieved or their employment on emergency fire cover is no longer required.

  • HMS Cambeltown
  • HMS Norfolk
  • HMS St. Albans
  • HMS Lancaster
  • HMS Portland
  • HMS Monmouth
  • HMS Newcastle
  • HMS Exeter (in dry dock for maintenance)
  • HMS Glasgow
  • HMS Middleton
  • HMS Bridport
  • HMS Dulverton
We are exploring options to relieve some crews in the event that the firefighters dispute continues.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent assessment he has made of the impact of the firefighters dispute upon (a) the operational capability and (b) the morale of the Royal Navy. [111335]

Operational Capability of individual ships, air squadrons and Commando Force Elements is assessed monthly. Currently, a number of ships are undermanned because of the Royal Navys commitments to fire-fighting duties, although operational capability is being substantially maintained. The operational capability of air squadrons and Commando forces is not significantly affected.Firefighting commitments have affected the employment stability and personal plans of many of those involved, with inevitable consequences for morale in the short term. The effect in the longer term will depend upon the success of measures we have in place, for example, to restore the balance of separated service and recover missed training courses affecting career progression.