HC Deb 28 March 1945 vol 409 cc1367-8
65. Mr. Kirby

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what is the present method, and the method to be employed in the immediate future, in the making of contracts for building cargo vessels for postwar trade; and are orders placed with firms having building facilities on cost-plus or similar basis, or are they placed on contract on a competitive price basis of tender.

Mr. Alexander

The present policy is to order merchant vessels on Government account only when they are required for specific operational purposes. Most cargo vessels now under construction, or which will be laid down in the future, are on account of shipowning firms. For such vessels an Admiralty licence is necessary but the contracts are a matter of agreement between the shipbuilders and shipowners concerned.

Mr. Kirby

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that shipbuilders at present put forward the argument that they are tendering on a competitive basis and, therefore, cannot discuss favourable conditions with the shipbuilding workers?

Mr. Alexander

If they are dealing with private contracts, they may well be tendering with shipowners on a competitive basis.