I have recently agreed a number of changes to improve the future organisation of the Royal dockyards. At headquarters the Dockyard Department's control of their personnel and financial resources has been strengthened. In the individual dockyards we are planning to give greater authority to general managers, expand the use of the technique of project management and make increased use of computers for production control and material management. We are also adapting the accounting system to provide a better yardstick of performance in financial terms.
I thank the hon. Gentleman for that reply. Would he not agree that in the cause of effectiveness, efficiency and morale in the dockyards, he should take the earliest possible opportunity to make a full statement about the present Government's commitment to the full remodernisation programme of the dockyards, and also to clear up the issues arising from the current commentary about the possibility of the dockyards being hived off to a separate administration?
We are going ahead with the modernisation programme. As to hiving off, we are considering the whole question of the operation of the Royal dockyards, but the hon. Gentleman will understand that the very nature of the dockyards and the need for a close association with the Fleet makes this a very difficult question indeed.
In view of the very vague answer that I received yesterday about the dockyards, may I express the hope that my hon. Friend will be in a position to make a more definite statement in the near future, because it is causing great anxiety? May I ask whether H.M.S. "Eagle" is going to be repaired in the Devonport Dockyard?
Does the hon. Gentleman intend to implement the intention of the last Administration in the setting up of a dockyard board under Ministerial chairmanship, with outside members, to improve the administration of the dockyards and possibly with a view at some later date to more independence of the docks from existing Civil Service machinery?