§ 72. Mr. LAMBERT
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller what is the present position of the national shipyards; what has been the total cost to date; what is the monthly expense of running them; have any of them been sold and, if so, for what price; and how it is proposed to utilise the unsold establishments?
The total cost to date of Chepstow, Beachley, and Portbury yards, together with the cost of houses at Beachley and Chepstow, and expenses in connection with the fitting out dock at Portishead, including liabilities, is about £6,400,000. None of the yards are now being operated as shipbuilding yards by the Government, and the only expenditure at present being incurred by the Government is in connection with the completion of the housing scheme as agreed under the contract of the sale of the Chepstow yards, and the sale of surplus stores. The yards and houses at Chepstow, together with a portion of the houses at Beachley, have been sold for £1,000,000. In addition, some £332,000 has been realised by the sale of buildings, plant, etc., and further plant and materials are being realised by the Disposal Board. Buildings costing about £187,000 have been transferred to other Departments. The unsold properties will be disposed of to the best advantage as opportunity offers.
I think that any sum I gave without explanation, as regards the contract, would be very erroneous. I should like notice of the question.
As I announced, there was a request for a recision of the contract, but the contract is still in existence, the heads of agreement have been signed, and for months the company has been in occupation.
Sir F. HALL
Did not the Government lay down that yard to provide additional mercantile tonnage during the War, and therefore might not some loss on it be expected owing to the Armistice?
Is it not a fact that these concrete ships were gruesome failures, and that we are out of pocket £5,000,000 on the whole business?
I have no idea that these works will be stopped. I hope that they will not be stopped, and that shipbuilding work will be developed in the Bristol Channel.