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With permission. Mr. Speaker, I will make a statement.
Her Majesty's Government have decided to close the naval dockyard in Hong Kong. The rundown, which will extend over two years, is expected to end by 30th November, 1959. This decision has been taken with very real regret in view of the long association of the dockyard with Hong Kong and the loss of jobs for many employees which must inevitably result from the closure. It has been necessitated by the current reorganisation of naval forces and their shore support throughout the world in the light of Government policy outlined in the Defence White Paper. The future requirements of Her Majesty's ships in the Far East will no longer justify the maintenance of a full-scale dockyard in Hong Kong.
The closure of the dockyard will not mean the disappearance of Her Majesty's ships from Hong Kong and Far Eastern waters. A number of naval vessels which will be based upon Hong Kong will continue to discharge the responsibilities of Her Majesty's Government for the protection of British shipping and the security of the Colony. A small naval base from which ships can be serviced and operated will be retained in Hong Kong island. In addition, other ships of the Fleet in the Far East will continue to visit Hong Kong from time to time.