HC Deb 16 March 1955 vol 538 cc1276-7
12. Mr. G. M. Thomson

asked the First Lord of the Admiralty what progress is being made with regard to the placing of orders in British shipyards by the Soviet Union and other East European countries.

Mr. Digby

British shipbuilders are free to accept from the Soviet Union and eastern European countries orders for ships, save for a few types of strategic importance, and the shipbuilding industry has assured my right hon. Friend of its willingness to build for these countries, provided that satisfactory contract conditions can be agreed.

Mr. Thomson

Could the Minister give some details about the actual restrictions which still exist in this field?

Mr. Digby

No, I am afraid I could not give the details. They are rather complicated, but they are well known to the industry.

Mr. Hoy

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that there has been some considerable doubt existing between the different European countries as to what orders might be accepted from Russia, and, as he will remember, there was a dispute regarding orders in Holland? Could he publish a list showing the type of ship orders for which could not be accepted?

Mr. Digby

I doubt whether that would be very wise at the moment. The whole matter is under discussion at present with the other countries affected.

Mr. Willey

The Civil Lord says that the whole matter is under discussion. Is it not time that we had something definite about it? Who are dragging their feet? Ought not this matter to be settled by now?

Mr. Digby

I hope that it will be possible before very long to reach some form of agreement, but there are many countries concerned.