HC Deb 28 February 1940 vol 357 cc2046-8
23. Miss Wilkinson

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he will take such steps as may be necessary to see that the restrictions against shipbuilding in the Palmer Yard, Jarrow, imposed by National Shipbuilders' Security, Limited, are removed; facilitate the grant of a lease or sale of the site from the Commissioner for the Special Areas (England and Wales) or his successor, or other the owner at present; place this yard on the approved list for the construction of naval and/or merchant vessels; and give equal treatment in the supply of finance, labour and materials, in the matter of reconstruction, adaptation, extension and the building of ships to the Palmer Yard, as to other shipbuilding yards on the approved list?

Mr. Shakespeare

Discussions, with which the Admiralty are associated, are now taking place between the Minister of Labour, the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation and the trade unions on the capacity and labour required to carry out the Government's shipbuilding programme. Until these discussions are completed and until a decision on policy has been reached, it is impossible to make any further statement. I would, however, refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave her on 14th February, which states the Admiralty's policy in broad terms.

Miss Wilkinson

I am aware of the answer given on 14th February. Is the hon. Gentleman aware that since then inquiries have been made in Jarrow, from which it appears that finance can be provided if the conditions laid down in the Question are provided by the Admiralty, and that that is why the question is now brought forward in view of the serious conditions that still obtain in this town? Will the hon. Gentleman give the matter his special consideration?

Mr. Shakespeare

I am anxious not to be specific in regard to any particular shipyard, because it would be wrong to raise any hopes. The hon. Lady must be patient a little longer, because the matter is shortly to be decided by the authorities.

Mr. John Wilmot

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that on this site and others in the district the piling and preparation of the yard, which take years to complete, have already been done, and that in order to accelerate the shipbuilding programme it is necessary to make use of existing yards?

Mr. Shakespeare

My right hon. Friend answered last week as to the policy and said it would be wrong to assume that yards which had been totally dismantled could soon come into production.

Mr. A. Edwards

Is it not essential that the first step should be taken now by removing the restrictions imposed by National Shipbuilders' Security, Limited?