Foreign Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:16 am on 8th May 1992.

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Photo of Gerald Kaufman Gerald Kaufman Chair, National Heritage Committee, Shadow Secretary of State (Foreign Affairs), Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee 10:16 am, 8th May 1992

If the hon. Gentleman will allow me to complete this passage, I shall give way in a moment.

Will the Government have squared the circle and satisfied the expectations of Rosyth and Devonport for Trident refitting? Is there a future for Devonport dockyard? Workers in Plymouth are very worried about that, as the Secretary of State must know. The Government have a profound responsibility towards our defence workers and they must promise them a future in which their skills will both keep them in employment and continue to benefit the nation. During the general election campaign we said that we would set up a defence diversification agency and work with industry and others on that. The management of Devonport dockyard, for example, greatly welcomed that proposal. However, that is not to be, so the Government have a great obligation to make it clear to the many thousands of defence workers who will undoubtedly lose their jobs as a result of technological change and disarmament negotiations what their future is to be. The most recent defence White Paper specifically washed its hands of that problem. The Government cannot continue to wash their hands of the problem.