HC Deb 04 February 1960 vol 616 cc1315-6

Motion made, and Question proposed. That the Agreements, dated 11th December, 1959, between Her Majesty's Postmaster-General and the Eastern Telegraph Company Limited (a wholly owned subsidiary of Cable and Wireless Limited) and between Her Majesty's Postmaster-General and the Canadian Overseas Telecommunication Corporation, for the provision and maintenance of a submarine telecommunication cable system between the United Kingdom and Canada, copies of which were laid before this House on 15th December, be approved.—[Miss Pike.]

7.57 p.m.

Mr. Cyril Bence (Dunbartonshire, East)

The Assistant Postmaster-General will note that paragraph 8 of the second Agreement contains the words: In the event of the cable and/or repeaters being manufactured in the United Kingdom … whereas, the Treasury Minute, on page 2 says that The cable, repeaters and equipment will be provided by British companies. I should like an explanation of that apparent discrepancy.

7.58 p.m.

The Assistant Postmaster-General (Miss Mervyn Pike)

Perhaps I can simplify the matter by explaining to the hon. Member that this cable is part of a round-the-world cable, of which the United Kingdom has a share. In relation to the Agreements, we hope that all the repeaters and equipment will be manufactured in this country, and we have reason to believe that that will be so with this cable. The repeaters used in the first leg of the cable—the CANTAT cable—from this country to Canada will be manufactured in Great Britain, and the laying of the cable will be carried out by the United Kingdom.

This is part of a very large scheme. We hope and believe that the entire manufacture of these repeaters will be carried out in the United Kingdom, but the scheme will be operated in conjunction with three other Commonwealth countries, and as it goes forward it could happen that some equipment is made in other parts of the Commonwealth.

Mr. Bence

Will the hon. Lady do her best to see that the cable ship which is to be built to lay the cable, together with as much equipment as possible, is provided by Scotland?

Miss Pike

We shall certainly do our best to continue to give Scotland a very large share in the manufacture of this equipment. We are very proud of the fact that the end of the cable is in Oban, and that all the most valuable terminal equipment is in Scotland at present.

8.0 p.m.

Mr. Ede (South Shields)

May I remind the hon. Lady that there are also capable shipbuilders on the Tyne, and that their state of employment should not be ignored, even by this Government?

Question put and agreed to.