I, too, compliment the hon. Member for Dunfermline, West (Ms. Squire) on her speech about Rosyth dockyard. I am grateful to her for allowing me and my hon. Friend the Minister to participate in the debate. I was an apprentice at Rosyth dockyard. My home town was Dunfermline. The hon. Lady commented on the value of those apprenticeships to young people nowadays, and I endorse every word that she said on that subject.
Rosyth dockyard has played an important role in Britain's defences over many years, especially during the past 50 years, and I believe that it still has an important role to play in the future. During the Falklands war, it certainly rose to the occasion. Throughout the past 20 or 30 years, Rosyth has played a vital role in maintaining the Polaris fleet, which has been right at the centre of British defence policies. Trident is at the centre of those policies for the future, and the nuclear deterrent has operated from Scotland over the years, as it will in the future. It is right to expect that the nuclear deterrent fleet, which has been maintained so well at Rosyth, will continue to be maintained there.
Since Babcock Thorn took over, Rosyth has changed considerably from the dockyard I knew. It has won more than 40 per cent. more work than others through competitive tenders—a remarkable achievement. Its labour utilisation has improved by about 22 per cent.—that, too, is remarkable. Its cost overruns on Ministry of Defence budgets have been virtually eliminated. That fact must weigh heavily with my hon. Friend the Minister when he considers Rosyth's future.
As the hon. and learned Member for Fife, North-East (Mr. Campbell) said, and for all the reasons that he mentioned, it is important that at least two naval bases be maintained in the United Kingdom.
Rosyth dockyard now has tremendous skill and knowledge within the base, and I ask that that skill and knowledge be put to good use for the future of Britain's defence systems.