§ 27 and 28. Mr. Woodburn
asked the Minister of Fuel and Power (1) whether he can give an assurance that British firms were asked to quote for the designing and erection of the new oil refineries at Aden and in other parts of the Commonwealth where developments are taking place under Government auspices;
(2) whether he can give an assurance that British firms are given the opportunity to tender for the designing and construction of oil refineries in this country, and in cases where British orders are placed in this country and abroad, and that such contracts are open to competition.
§ Mr. Geoffrey Lloyd
This is a matter for the oil companies concerned, but I am confident that they will continue to give British contracting firms the opportunity to tender for work which they are equipped to carry out.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Has the Minister any evidence to prove that British firms have ever been given the opportunity to tender for the designing and erection of these oil installations? My information is to the contrary. Could not the right hon. Gentleman bring the matter to the attention both of the oil companies and of the Americans and point out that unless the engineering industry, and indeed the shipbuilding industry, in this country are left some fields in which to exercise their labours we shall have to live on American charity for the rest of our lives? We must develop some lines of industry here and not have them completely absorbed by the Americans.
§ Mr. Lloyd
The right hon. Gentleman should perhaps take into account the fact 21 that this work of providing for the needs of the oil industry is a relatively new development in this country—a very important one—and that British firms, while they have had civil engineering experience, have not lad the experience of acting as main contractors. It is pleasing to record that the output of this industry in general has increased from £10 million before the war to £80 million at the present time.
§ Mr. Woodburn
Since the Government are very interested financially in the oil concerns, would the right hon. Gentleman use his influence to see that British engineering gets at least a look in in this important sphere?