§ 26. Mr. PALING
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether the Government has approved the plans of National Shipbuilding Securities, Limited, with regard to closing a number of British shipyards; whether they are aware of the total to be thus closed; whether the plant is being sold abroad or left in this country; and whether the Government has taken into consideration the possible effect of national safety of the activities of this body?
§ 28 and 29. Mr. T. WILLIAMS
asked the President of the Board of Trade (1) how many, and which, shipyards have now been closed through absorption by National Shipbuilding Securities, Limited; for how many years in each case shipbuilding is to be forbidden in these yards; and whether the Government has considered the effect on national safety should a sudden emergency need an expansion of shipping;
(2) whether his attention has been called to the activities of National Shipbuilding Securities, Limited; and whether he can give the House any information as to the effect on British shipping of their negotiations to date?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
National Shipbuilders' Security, Limited, is a private undertaking, and Government approval 169 of its plans is not required. No complete list of the shipyards acquired by the company has been published. I understand, however, that, of shipyards comprising 684 berths existing in January, 1930, the company has acquired yards comprising 116 berths, and that these yards are generally disposed of by the company on terms which involve a restrictive covenant extending in most cases for 40 years. The company have stated that the intention is to maintain the capacity of the industry well ahead of maximum demands, keeping in view national emergencies. At the present time only 21 per cent. of the available shipbuilding berths are occupied. I understand that very little of the plant from yards dismantled by the company has been shipped abroad.
§ 39. Mr. PALING
asked the Minister of Labour whether he can give information as to the effect of the negotiations of National Shipbuilding Securities, Limited, on employment in the town of Jarrow; and whether, in view of the sterilisation of the shipyard for 40 years, his Department is considering any plans for the absorption of the large numbers of workers involved?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of LABOUR (Mr. R. S. Hudson)
I have no information regarding the progress of the negotiations in question. My hon. Friend the Member for Jarrow (Mr. Pearson) and others have brought the position at Jarrow prominently to my right hon. Friend's notice, and such steps as are practicable both through the ordinary placing activities of the exchanges and through the training and transfer schemes have been and will continue to be taken to alleviate the situation. Despite the limited opportunities, which have been an inevitable consequence of the general and widespread depression of the past three years, much has been done in the ways I have mentioned to assist the situation at Jarrow. In addition, valuable work is being carried on in the area by means of occupation and recreational centres.
§ Mr. PALING
Can the hon. Member say whether any steps are to be taken to prevent the closing down of such works, thereby throwing out of employment tens of thousands of people as has been done in this case?