HC Deb 16 July 1924 vol 176 cc350-1
23. Mr. HANNON

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty whether he is now in a position to state the exact loss incurred in connection with the two oil tankers built by the Admiralty for a private firm; and what percentage the loss bears to the contract price?


I am not yet in a position to state the exact loss, but the Provisional Account to 31st December, 1923, included in the Volume of Trading Accounts and Balance Sheets, 1922–23 (House of Commons Paper No. 109) shows the net loss, after taking into account the overhead charges of the yards and allowances for insurance and interest, as £208,275. The final account is not expected to show any material variation. On the basis of the figure of £208,275, the loss is, approximately, 33⅓ per cent. of the amount paid by the purchasers of the vessels.


Will the Admiralty take care not to repeat an experiment of this kind?


The same circumstances are not likely to arise. The work was given in response to an appeal, in order that the men might be kept at work.


Why is it that the Royal Dockyards should not be able to turn out this work at a lower cost than 33⅓ per cent. in excess of the cost in a private yard?


My right hon. Friend should remember that we have got to deduct the overhead charges, etc., which would reduce the amount to something like £60,000, and further that this work was given in response to an urgent request to keep the yards employed, regardless of whether there was a profit or not.


Is it not the case that about the same time the cost of shipping fell, and that the private yards which were building suffered a severe loss just as the Government yards did on these vessels?


My impression is that that is the fact.


Does not my hon. Friend think that he could keep the national yards employed by ceasing to send Government work to private yards?