HC Deb 13 May 1919 vol 115 cc1449-51
Sir CHARLES HENRY (by Private Notice)

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Shipping if it is the intention of the Ministry of Shipping to dispose of the national shipyards at Chepstow to the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades, and, if so, before this course is adopted, whether an opportunity will be given to Parliament to express an opinion on this policy?

Colonel WILSON

An offer has been made by the Government to the Federation of Engineering and Shipbuilding Trades in connection with the disposal of the national shipyards at Chepstow and Beachley, and the offer is now being considered by the Federation.

In reply to the second part of the question, Parliament will have an opportunity of discussing this proposal on the Estimates for the Ministry of Shipping; but, as the Government has made a definite offer to the unions concerned, I am of opinion that no good purpose would be served by a discussion at this stage.


Am I to understand that the question will be settled before it comes to Parliament?

Colonel WILSON

A definite offer has been made to the Federation, and the Federation are having their annual meeting at Cardiff on Thursday, when the proposal which the Government has made will be put before the Federation, and if the members of the unions in the Federation accept, then the details of the proposal will be gone into.


Was the right hon. Member for Cambridge, who was the promoter of the scheme of the Chepstow national shipyards, consulted before this offer was made to the Federation?

Colonel WILSON



Can the hon. Gentleman say whether there was any attempt to sell these shipyards to the highest bidder?

Colonel WILSON

Negotiations have been in progress for several months in connection with the disposal of these yards, and the co-operation of labour in regard to the yards was invited. That proposal has been put before the unions concerned, and, as it is possible they will accept it, the yards will be at their disposal.


Have the unions the opportunity of purchasing this without any other authority being invited to tender for it?

Lieutenant-Colonel WILSON

An announcement was made in the Press with regard to these yards some four months ago, and every opportunity was given to anyone to come forward and make an offer for the yards. Only tentative offers have been received up to the present from anybody; no definite offer has been made at all. This is a definite proposal which has been put before the Federation of the unions concerned.


Am I to understand that a definite offer has been made, and if that definite offer is accepted will this House have power to overthrow that offer and, if not, is it not a little late to discuss the matter in this House?

Lieutenant-Colonel WILSON

The offer is a definite offer made by the Government.


Can Parliament be made acquainted with the terms of these proposals to the Federation before they are agreed to?

Mr. A. DAVIES (Clitheroe)

Will the same principles be applied in the event of a private purchaser offering?


Some of these questions ought to go on the Paper.