HC Deb 02 March 1960 vol 618 cc1190-1
3. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty the principle on which he acts in allocating shipbuilding and ship-repairing and other orders by his Department to Scottish and English shipyards respectively; what regard he has to the state of unemployment in these yards; and how many such orders, together with the value in money and tonnage, have been allocated to Scottish and English shipyards respectively during each of the last ten years.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

Contracts for building and repairing warships are placed with the shipyards best able to give timely and economical completion. The employment position and economy are among the factors considered.

Full details of shipbuilding and ship-repairing orders as between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not available. For shipbuilding, the total United Kingdom orders during the last ten years have been 417 ships, totalling 325,000 tons valued at £444 million. Of these, orders for 27 per cent. of the ships, 34 per cent. of the tonnage and 32 per cent. of the value went to Scottish yards.

Mr. Hughes

As a matter of principle, is not it unwise, in these days of possible bomb warfare, to concentrate these orders in the south of England and the south of Scotland, as is being done? Is not that a very good reason for sending some of these orders to Aberdeen—

Mr. Strachey

And Dundee.

Mr. Hughes

—and Dundee and the Moray Firth, but particularly to Aberdeen, which is a good port whose workers, who are unemployed, have a good technique and fine traditions in shipbuilding? Will the Minister consider the points that I have put to him with a view to ameliorating the unemployment situation in Aberdeen?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

I do not think that 33 per cent. is a bad share of the amount of orders which are going, which is what Scotland has enjoyed. If one refers to Aberdeen alone, as the hon. and learned Gentleman did, one notices that, of the two shipbuilding and ship-repairing firms concerned, employment in Alexander Hall's of Aberdeen, as compared with June, 1951, is exactly the same in January, 1960, while employment at Hall Russell's of Aberdeen is exactly double what it was in June, 1951. So I do not think that the hon. and learned Gentleman has suffered as a result of our administration.

Mr. Strachey

Will the hon. Gentleman consider Dundee fully on a level with Aberdeen?

Forward to