§ 8.51 a.m.
§ Mr. R. Chichester-Clark (Londonderry)
I hope that I shall practise the respect for other hon. Members' time which the hon. Gentleman the Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport professed at the beginning of his remarks. I would not have chosen to speak at this hour of the day had it not been for the considerable worry at the back of my mind, and that worry will, I hope, emerge to be the Londonderry naval base and the Government's attitude thereto; but before I come to that there are one or two other topics which deserve to be aired.
High among the priorities listed at the General Election by the party opposite was development of the regions. After mentioning "Signposts for Wales", "Signposts for Wales," and "Signposts to the New Ulster," the manifesto went on to say:For these three nations, as for the regions of England itself, control over the location of new factories and offices, inducements to firms to move to areas where industry is declining, the establishment of new public enterprises where these prove necessary, all these measures will be required to check the present drift to the South and to build up the declining economies in other parts of our country.That was the manifesto.
I suppose that it might be thought a little churlish, after five and a half months tenure of office by the Government, to suggest that in their proliferation of signposts they have lost their way, but I think that it is fair, when looking at the challenge which the Government have set themselves, to ask whether one De- 1086 partment is fully aware of what some others are doing. To attract new industry is one thing. To remove or to curtail scarce sources of existing employment is another.
There is one field in this regional context where the Government surely must have a decisive say, and that is in the location of defence establishments. But what is happening in Northern Ireland? The First Secretary, whom I am glad to see here, in an ebullient mood, broadcast to Ulster in August of last year and said—indeed, he said it several times:You can build ships; you can make aeroplanes…these things we arrange for you to do.I am certain that that seemed to the First Secretary a very good thing to say at the time, and I am certain that he meant it—I am not impugning his sincerity—but let us look at what happened about ships.
The other day one of my hon. Friends asked, in a Question, what orders had gone to the North and to Clydeside. A fairly large number, I will not read them all to the House, were given in the reply, but there were no orders for Belfast at all. May we be told tonight what this modernised shipyard can expect to be able to tender for in the future? We got the new aircraft carrier, but what else? We would like to know that.
Then I come to the question of aeroplanes, which the right hon. Gentleman said we could build. What has happened? The contract for the HS681 has been cancelled. That work was very necessary for Short's. So far, no alternative work has appeared on the horizon. Mr. Catherwood and his consultants have moved in, but so far from encouraging us to build aeroplanes in Northern Ireland it looks as if the Government think that the future of Short's lies largely outside the aircraft industry. We must see what further diversification Mr. Catherwood and his colleagues are looking into.
We hope that the Government will carefully examine the prospects of a forward-looking industry like electronically-automated machine tools and things of that kind. We will judge the diversification when it comes, but that must be some time ahead. It is clear that for the moment a large gap in employment will 1087 yawn ahead unless further aircraft work it available. Perhaps we can be told what are the prospects of work when the Phantom is available, and also the names of the consultants concerned.
Another important question is the anxiety that is building up over the possibility of redundancy at the R.E.M.E. workshops at Kinnegan. That is a serious matter, and we should like our anxiety about it to be relieved.
I come now to the heart of the matter which worries me most, namely, the future of the joint anti-submarine school at Londonderry. Here, I find myself quoting the First Secretary again. In talking of Northern Ireland he said:It will want its natural resources you know-the ports, the harbours, and all that, to be used.That is exactly what we do want, and it is up to the right hon. Gentleman's Government to see what they can do.
All that the Government are doing so far is to threaten to close down the base. That is what I complain about. I hope that the Government have an open mind on this subject—because we know that the matter is still under review. I do not want to repeat my arguments, mainly strategic and economic, in the debate on the Navy Estimates, but I hope that consideration will quickly be favourably given to this matter. This is deeply worrying to my constituents. They are so disturbed that a public demonstration is being organised in the City and a public meeting is being held by the Mayor in the Guildhall. Trade union branches from all over the North-West are seeking to have tabled Motions supporting the campaign for the retention of the base.
If it were closed it might mean—in a town where there is now an unemployment figure of between 11 and 12 per cent.—another 30 per cent. unemployed. No doubt jobs could be found for 50 fitters and 60 skilled building trade operatives, but what about the storemen, drivers, and cleaners, many of whom are middle-aged? Where are they to go? In addition, it means a loss of £500,000 a year in trade to the City. Much of the work and money that the Harbour Commissioners have put into the port would be nullified by the disappearance of the base.
1088 I do not want to go into any other arguments on the subject, except to remind the hon. Member once again that the great advantage of Londonderry is that it is closer to really deep water, which is necessary for the kind of exercises which are carried out, than anywhere in the south of England, which I understand would be the area envisaged for the change.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman can tell us something about the future of the R.A.F. station at Ballykelly, which is linked decisively with the anti-submarine training school. Londonderry provides a fine example of joint Service operational training arrangements—working well together—of the very kind that we want to encourage. The Government have not closed their minds on this, and we want an answer soon—and a favourable answer.
I would have said that on every ground, human, economic and strategic, they should retain Londonderry. In recent years we saw the closing of the naval air station at Eglinton, the closing of the R.N. reserve ships and the departure of the R.A.F. from Aldergrove. I do hope that this apparent retreat of the Services from Northern Ireland will not be allowed to continue, because if it does it will leave behind not only a trail of human misery, but will have an effect on local recruiting which can only be detrimental to all three Services.
At a time when we are concentrating on building up employment, this is no time to consider removing defence establishments.Unless the Government take effective steps to reverse the trends of industrial location we shall see two nations again, divided this time not by harsh class inequalities, but by geography.These are not my words, but the words of the hon. Member for Stockton-on-Tees (Mr. W. T. Rodgers) who is Joint Under-Secretary of State, Department of Economic Affairs. They must have their application to defence establishments as well, and I hope that the Government will take them to heart, otherwise the fruits of Labour rule will taste very sour in the mouths of the people of Northern Ireland, particularly those of the unemployed in Londonderry.
§ 9.2 a.m.
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes (South Ayrshire)
I have listened to the hon. Member for Londonderry (Mr. Chichester-Clark) with a great deal of sympathy, and I hope, with some understanding of the human problem with which Northern Ireland is confronted. My constituency is not very far from Northern Ireland. Frequently, from its southern end, I see Northern Ireland and realise that the identity of interests between south-west Scotland and Northern Ireland is very strong.
In fact, I believe that it was Scotland which partly populated Northern Ireland and that there are a considerable number of people of Scottish descent, and especially people from Ayrshire, in Northern Ireland.
When I heard the hon. Gentleman speaking I wondered whether he had really got to grips with this problem of unemployment in Northern Ireland. For example, he referred to Londonderry, and he argued for the retention of the anti-submarine school at Londonderry as if such schools were basic industries and likely to produce a permanent solution to unemployment in Northern Ireland. I must confess that I think he took rather a superficial view of the position, because, after all, submarines are on their way out.
I do not know whether he has read some interesting articles in the Daily Express by the well-known correspondent, Mr. Chapman Pincher—
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
Perhaps I can save the hon. Gentleman some time here. I was not talking about submarines. I was talking about anti-submarine warfare training.
§ Sir Arthur Vere Harvey (Macclesfield)
How can the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) say that submarines are on the way out when his own Government have decided to go ahead and build four Polaris submarines?
§ Mr. Hughes
I was coming to that, and I am very much indebted for the intervention. As I understood the argument, there are to be anti-submariners at Londonderry without submarines. What is an anti-submarine school to do, if there are to be no submarines? Against whom will they conduct warfare?
1090 I want to see Londonderry become the centre of a prosperous permanent industry. I do not want the people of Londonderry to accept the delusion that the way to establish industrial prosperity in Northern Ireland and secure permanent employment for the 11 per cent. unemployed in Londonderry is the way suggested by the hon. Gentleman. I think that he is following a chimera and a delusion here.
I want to refer to the arguments of the distinguished correspondent of the Daily Express, Mr. Chapman Pincher, who used to be quoted so often by the Paymaster-General, my right hon. Friend the Member for Dudley (Mr. Wigg). He has this week suggested that the Polaris submarine is already obsolete and that technological advance has proceeded so far and at such a pace that Polaris submarines will be long obsolete before their base in Gareloch is completed.
§ Mr. Hughes
Yes, I have said it before. I am John the Baptist, going before Mr. Chapman Pincher.
I suggest to the hon. Member for Londonderry, who has spoken eloquently and movingly about Northern Ireland, that he should try to work out a five-year plan for Northern Ireland quite apart from the anti-submarine school at Londonderry, because the development of that school will only lead to disappointment and disillusion. What I want to see in Northern Ireland is a prosperous permanent industry which will absorb labour not only from Northern Ireland, but from the other Ireland.
When I discovered that it was the defence of Northern Ireland that we were to discuss this morning, I thought in terms of the wider strategic implications. Who does Northern Ireland want to be defended against? [An HON. MEMBER: "You."] As far as I understand, military thinking in Northern Ireland does not regard the main enemy as Communism. It is more concerned with Roman Catholicism in Belfast than with Russian Communism.
§ Mr. James A. Kilfedder (Belfast, West)
I hope that the hon. Member will remember the sacrifices made by Northern Ireland in the last war, when it stood 1091 by this country while the other part, Eire, refused to take part in the defence of democracy.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am very much obliged to the hon. Gentleman for that intervention. If the Northern Ireland people want to avoid the sacrifices of war, they could take the illustration of Southern Ireland, which did not make any sacrifices in the last war at all.
Indeed, the more I read about sacrifices in war, and think about it 20 years after, when history has receded, I wonder what the sacrifices were for. The hon. and gallant Gentleman has, no doubt, been watching the film of the war of 1914–18. We are all wondering what that war was about. The new generation which is coming along looks at the sacrifices made in the First World War and wonders what the ghastly business was all about. In due time, when history has receded another twenty years, we may find a new generation wondering what the last war was about and why so many of Northern Ireland's young men were sacrificed.
§ Sir A. V. Harvey
I want to be fair to Southern Ireland. In the two world wars, the number of Southern Irishmen who fought in the cause of freedom was as high as anywhere in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. Hughes
I quite agree that many people fought in the two wars without knowing what it was all about, especially people from Southern Ireland.
I do not wish to go into the very interesting history of Ireland in the two wars. What I am pointing out to the hon. Gentleman is that if he wants to see a sound economy in Northern Ireland, he should not link it to the armaments industries. I can understand his point of view absolutely, because I represent a constituency near Glasgow where the argument is frequently used that we must solve the problem of unemployment by getting more armaments orders. That is a complete delusion. It is deceiving the workers of Belfast and of Glasgow.
The hon. Member put up a suggestive argument that a new aircraft carrier—
§ Mr. Hughes
I mean suggestive in the economic sense. I hope that my hon. Friend will not take out of my mouth words which I did not mean. I used the expression in the Dr. Johnson's dictionary sense of the word.
Take the appeal for a new aircraft carrier. When a new aircraft carrier is mentioned, immediately there is interest by shipbuilders in Belfast, on the Tyne and on the Clyde. It opens out a very good prospect of employment, because I understand that a new aircraft carrier costs £60 million. But then the aircraft have to be considered afterwards. The hon. Member referred to the Phantom aircraft, and he wants the aircraft also to be built in Belfast. The total sum for an aircraft carrier amounts to £200 million—for a vessel which could be sunk within a few minutes in the event of a rocket war.
I can understand that people who are unemployed will take jobs on anything. I quite understand the constituents of the hon. Member in Ireland and people in Glasgow saying that an aircraft carrier would bring them work. What we want, however, is productive work which is in line with the economic development of the country. If we go on building aircraft carriers, we will lose the great opportunity of building up a rational and intelligent shipbuilding industry.
The cost of an aircraft carrier is £200 million. I even heard it suggested in the debate on the Navy Estimates that we wanted at least four of them—£800 million. We could solve the problem temporarily by saying, "Glasgow, you can have an aircraft carrier. Belfast, you can have an aircraft carrier. And Tyneside, one for you, too". Would not everything in the economic garden be lovely then?
But we would then be faced with a gigantic increase in Government expenditure, the state of the £ would be precarious and probably action would be needed to save it. So instead of getting permanent employment in Belfast, we would get an economic crisis. In such a crisis, what would any Government do? They would immediately start to cut down, and one of the first things on which they would consider cutting down would be the aircraft carrier. I have seen it happen at Clydeside when a Conservative Government were in power. 1093 When forced to economise as a result of their improvident policy, the Conservative Government cut down on the then "Queen Mary" and it was lying idle on the stocks for years and the people were out of work. So I cannot imagine that an aircraft carrier would be a solution of what is, indeed, a difficult unemployment problem in Belfast.
I look upon the demand for this kind of shipbuilding with some alarm, because it is not the kind of shipbuilding that the country needs. Everybody knows that people concerned with shipbuilding are greatly concerned about Japan. Japan is not building aircraft carriers. The result is that the Japanese yards are concentrating on building tankers. While we are engaged on building submarines, aircraft carriers and other warships and frigates, Japan will be able to build tankers, and we shall have considerable additions to the Navy to protect a shipbuilding industry which has practically ceased to exist.
§ Mr. Hughes
Yes, but that is not nearly so many as Japan has.
I do not want the hon. Member unintentionally to deceive the people of Belfast. If there is to be a prosperous shipbuilding industry in Belfast, I believe that it must be the kind of shipbuilding needed in the modern age. I regard the speech of the hon. Gentleman—although well-intentioned—as one which is not likely permanently to help the people of Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes (Aberdeen, North)
Why is my hon. Friend placing such emphasis on Belfast? Why does he not say a word about the Scottish shipbuilding yards?
§ Mr. Emrys Hughes
My hon. and learned Friend wants me to divert the debate to Aberdeen. Aberdeen is too far from Northern Ireland to appeal to me. All that I can say is that I have already linked up the shipbuilding industry in Belfast with the shipbuilding industry in the Clyde. I used the Clyde only as an illustration because I did not want to divert the debate. I am sure that if it went on to the subject of the Clyde, this debate would go on all the time.
1094 I think that I have said enough to warn the Government not to be so enthusiastic about going ahead with that aircraft carrier. I read with some anxiety the speech of the Minister of Defence for the Royal Navy at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in January, when he held out the prospect of the new aircraft carrier. The argument will, presumably, be the usual one, that it will provide work, but have the Government any idea of what kind of work is needed? What does the building of an aircraft carrier imply? It implies taking away labour not only from other shipbuilding, but from housing. A very large number of the people employed on building an aircraft carrier are the same people—the electricians, the plumbers and the joiners—who would be needed on the housing front. Anybody who knows anything about Belfast, and about the slums of Belfast and of Londonderry, will realise that those workers would be better employed on building houses than on building things which are likely to be obsolete.
I therefore suggest that the hon. Gentleman has gone on entirely wrong lines in his attempt to find a solution to the problem of his constituents. Let me tell him that Northern Ireland is not purely Belfast. My hon. and learned Friend the Member for Aberdeen (Mr. Hector Hughes) will agree with me, I am sure, that Belfast is not Northern Ireland. There are small farmers in Ulster. Where will they be if the hon. Member for Londonderry has his way?
§ Mr. Hughes
I wish the hon. Gentleman would not take such a political outlook.
Far more people are engaged in agriculture in Northern Ireland than in any submarine school. At present, the small farmers of Northern Ireland, Aberdeenshire and Scotland generally are complaining about the size of their income. An extra burden of £400 million on our national expenditure would mean that in next year's Price Review there would be nothing left for the farmers. Hon. Gentlemen opposite have not thought of that. Their minds move in separate compartments.
I want to protest against further burdens being placed on the farmers of 1095 Northern Ireland, not forgetting the dairy farmers of South Ayrshire. What does the Ulster farmer have to pay for defence? If he has three children he pays £3 14s. 9d. a week for defence and the hon. Member for Londonderry wants him to pay more so that we can have more aircraft carriers and submarines that will be obsolete in 10 years' time. These are crackpot ideas and crackpot economies.
One remark in the hon. Gentleman's speech particularly caught my attention. He said that advance factories were going to Scotland and, after speaking about the lack of them in Northern Ireland, he complained bitterly. I do not know whether he wants nationalised advance factories in Northern Ireland, because we are looking forward to having publicly-owned industries. So we have this curious example of an hon. Gentleman opposite representing Northern Ireland wanting to see an extension of nationalisation in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman will read in tomorrow's OFFICIAL REPORT that he did mention advance factories.
§ Mr. Hughes
In that case, I have merely carried the argument to its logical conclusion. [HON. MEMBERS: "Withdraw."] I can always withdraw what I said, but perhaps I am right. The hon. Gentleman was calling for greater Government initiative in solving the problem of unemployment in Northern Ireland. He spoke about signposts for Scotland. That interested me. Then he complained that there were no signposts for Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Chichester-Clark
If the hon. Gentleman will read my speech in the OFFICIAL REPORT tomorrow I think that he will find it easier to understand than anyone will find his speech easy to understand.
§ Mr. Hughes
I almost despair of the hon. Gentleman. The people of Belfast 1096 and Northern Ireland want a constructive industrial programme for the future, they want signposts, and something done for them, and the sole contribution of the hon. Member relates to an anti-submarine school at Londonerry—
§ Mr. Derek Page (King's Lynn)
Would my hon. Friend draw a parallel between the position in Northern Ireland and that in Norfolk, where a great deal of the local employment depended on an airfield were the aircraft suddenly developed metal fatigue, causing great distress in the area, with nothing to take the place of that employment?
§ Mr. Hughes
The hon. Gentleman is suffering from something else besides metal fatigue. I fancy that there was a trace of mental fatigue in his argument.
I am trying to work out this problem for Northern Ireland. If the hon. Member representing Northern Ireland cannot bring any positive industrial programme to Northern Ireland except an anti-submarine school, it is the duty of some of us to help them. I therefore suggest that they need advance factories there, but not the kind of advance factories connected with submarines.
If the hon. Gentleman had argued for helicopters, I could have understood it, because I am sure that I carry the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Sir A. V. Harvey) with me when I say that there is a future for helicopters as civilian aircraft and in the export markets. If the hon. Gentleman had argued that Belfast could manufacture helicopters for export to the Chinese, I could have understood it—[HON. MEMBERS: "Or Vietnam."]—or Vietnam, because we have to look forward from wars to the future development of Asia.
I look forward to the time when the horrible war in Vietnam is over, and when the people of Vietnam and of China are the greatest potential market for Britain in the world. The hon. Gentleman would have carried me with him 100 per cent. if he had said, "We want to build some helicopters in Belfast." It is the absolute poverty of thinking, the lack of imagination in Northern Ireland, that makes the Southern Irelanders almost despair of them.
Helicopters could be linked up with advance factories. We could have the 1097 helicopters built in Belfast and have advance factories making small parts in Londonderry. We could find employment for people who might be redundant in the anti-submarine school—they could be employed in the advance factories, making spare parts for something that has a future and which would result in permanent value to the economy and people of Northern Ireland.
I therefore appeal to the hon. Members from Northern Ireland to concentrate on something like that, instead of coming here like Oliver Twist and going round to the Defence Ministries asking for more, which the country cannot afford. If they were to conduct a campaign demanding a greater advance on the great industrial front in Northern Ireland, the transference of money now being spent wastefully on certain aspects of the defence programme into advance factories which would provide useful work for the people there, I would be with them entirely. It is because I see that this Oliver Twist attitude of theirs is not getting us anywhere that I appeal to them to think in terms of the new planning of the economy of Northern Ireland.
I de not see why Northern Ireland should always be linked to the British economy. Why not be linked with the Southern Irish economy? Anyone who has been in Ireland recently must have seen that in Southern Ireland there is a great development of German industry. This is a curious situation, is it not? Germany lost the war, and yet the Germans are capturing the industry of Ireland. If there was a decently planned economy for the whole of Ireland, it would be possible to attract investment and establish industry on a sound basis.
There are certain economic advantages in being linked with Southern Ireland. Southern Ireland has no grandiose defence expenditure. The Irish in the South are not going in for aircraft carriers. They have no £3 14s. 9d. a week to pay out of their small farms to pay for defence.
§ Mr. Michael McGuire (Ince)
Is my hon. Friend aware that, on the initiative of the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, this very situation is coming about? People in Northern Ireland are now realising where their best course lies. It 1098 took a lot of courage, perhaps, but the initiative has come from the North in favour of the idea of prospering as a nation, North and South coming together.
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker (Dr. Horace King)
Wide as this debate is, the matter which the hon. Gentleman is now raising is one for Northern Ireland and Eire.
§ Mr. Hughes
I was conscious of that, Mr. Deputy-Speaker, and I do not wish to wander into the fascinating labyrinth which my hon. Friend has invited me to enter. I was speaking purely of Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is now suffering, as Scotland is suffering, from the effect of our vast defence expenditure.
§ Mr. Hughes
Yes, we are. If the hon. Gentleman has listened to my speeches in our defence debates, he will understand why. I thought for a moment that I had secured a rather unexpected convert.
If Northern Ireland Members want to develop a sound argument for the advancement of their economy, they could point out that the farmer who has to pay £3 14s. 9d. a week for defence expenditure has to compete with the farmer across the Border who has practically no defence expenditure to meet at all. The Scottish farmers are very perturbed about competition by the importation of Irish cattle. The Irish Government are able to subsidise the raising of cattle to compete with Scottish cattle because Southern Ireland has not got an enormous burden of defence expenditure.
I throw this out as a passing thought. Northern Ireland, instead of linking itself with the very problematical economy of Britain, should look south and see whether it could develop an economic programme which would result in greater prosperity for the people of all Ireland. I welcome this debate, and I am glad to have the opportunity to put forward some constructive suggestions. I know all the arguments which will be produced by Northern Ireland Members. What about Shorts'? What about Harland and Wolff?
We are familiar with them all. If they want to impress the Treasury, they should say, "We do not want any more naval 1099 contracts. We do not want any more air contracts. We want subsidies for developing a really constructive industry in Scotland"—[Laughter.]—"in Northern Ireland which will be of permanent value". It will be of permanent value to Scotland, too, because we trade with Northern Ireland. We want to see a prosperous Northern Ireland, because it is an essential market for our goods.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
My hon. Friend has misunderstood my former intervention. It was designed to draw attention to the importance of Northern Ireland departing from its position of isolation and of inter-relating its constructive policy to the constructive policies of Scotland and the rest of Ireland.
§ Mr. Hughes
I am not going to be sidetracked. I must speak in order in this debate and I am doing my best to do so, with your assistance, Mr. Deputy-Speaker.
Let me warn hon. Members from Northern Ireland that the line they are taking will not deceive the people of Northern Ireland for very much longer. There is an awakening there. I do not say that the people of Northern Ireland will vote Socialist at the next election, but they might vote Liberal. I can already see the hon. Member for Londonderry shivering at the prospect. People may say, "We do not like Socialism in Northern Ireland but, after all, we had 13 years of Tory rule and the problems of unemployment; and even the problems of the anti-submarine base were not made by the Labour Government."
We have had 13 years of Tory rule in which all the Ulster Conservative Members were unanimous in their support of the Conservative Government. To what effect? At the end, they come along in this debate and present a dismal picture which did not originate in the time of this Government at all. The whole question of Northern Ireland should have been faced boldly, resolutely and determinedly long ago.
I asked hon. Members from Northern Ireland to beware of the fact that there might be a Liberal revival in Belfast, just as there has been in Roxburgh. This is indivisible. I hope the time will come when it is recognised in Northern Ireland that the programme I have outlined is 1100 the only hope for Conservatism there. I hope that we shall not just hear Oliver Twist appeals any more, but something positive, something hopeful, something promising, something that will really gladden the hearts of the people of Northern Ireland.
§ 9.38 a.m.
§ Mr. Stanley R. McMaster (Belfast, East)
I am sure that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) will forgive me if I do not follow him along his highway. The debate to follow is very important and I have no wish to obstruct the important business of tomorrow—or, rather, today. I will leave most of my notes to one side and comment only briefly, although I appreciate the hon. Member's confusion in mixing Scotland and Ireland. He referred to the Scottish settlement in Northern Ireland. If he casts his mind back further he will find that most of the Scottish families who went to Ireland at the time of the settlement of James I had originally come to Scotland from Ireland many centuries before.
The point I am most concerned with relates to the employment of some 20,000 men in my constituency. The amount of money spent in Northern Ireland in the last few years on defence projects is something for which there is no substitute and I cannot agree with the hon. Gentleman's argument about defence. I recognise the sincerity of the hon. Member's arguments, but we are still in a—
§ Mr. Deputy-Speaker
Order. It is not in order for an hon. Member to read a newspaper in the Chamber.
§ Mr. McMaster
The hon. Member for South Ayrshire referred to the aircraft carrier. I remind the House that the shipyards in Belfast, which today employ 12,000 men, have been one of the main yards in which our defence requirements have been met. In the past ten years, they have built two Type 12 frigates, 12 coastal minesweepers, a guided missile destroyer, an assault ship, a Fleet replenishment ship and three of the last four aircraft carriers. We are dependent upon this type of defence work in Northern Ireland.
I feel that the Government are entitled to use defence expenditure in an area of high unemployment such as Northern Ireland to prime the pump. I regret very 1101 much that the Defence White Paper has not given us a better lead on this subject.
Short Brothers and Harland have been mentioned. Although we welcome the schemes to diversify Short Brothers and Harland, bringing in the electronic machine tool industry, I ask the Government to look again at the suggestions concerning our aircraft requirements and see that we do not sell out our aircraft industry entirely to the United States. We need immediate defence orders to replace the work which was lost on the HS681.
I regret that I cannot develop these arguments at greater length—[HON. MEMBERS: "Carry on."]—but I ask the Government Front Bench, in spite of the brevity of my remarks, to pay particular attention to them and to look particularly again at these vital defence industries and also the maintenance establishments, the naval yard at Sydenham and the R.E.M.E. workshop at Kinegar and see whether more work can be put into Northern Ireland, where there is the labour and where we need it.