§ Mr. Bence
This is going too far. We have been asking this Question for twelve months. Is not the Minister aware that from time to time there are reports in the national newspapers, and there is one this morning, referring to the conclusions of the Chandos Committee's report? Where are the newspapers getting these reports when we cannot get any answers about the findings of the Chandos Committee in the House? Is the Minister aware that during the election campaign in Scotland the Prime Minister, and every other Tory candidate, said that these two liners would be replaced and financed by the Government? Will the hon. Gentleman let us know when they intend to do it?
§ Dame Irene Ward
Am I to understand from my hon. Friend's remark that the Minister has not yet received the Committee's report? Is he aware that this is a matter that rather concerns us because, if I understand correctly, when the report is received it may not be published? Will he give a proper explanation whether we will know in detail what the Committee reports, when it reports?
§ Mr. Hay
We have not yet received the report. As regards publication, it has always been made clear to the House that this report would be a confidential one to Her Majesty's Government. We recognise the interest that the House has in the matter, and when the report is received we shall consider what statement can be made to the House.
§ Mr. Mellish
Is there any way of expediting the report? The Minister says that he recognises the urgency of the problem. Can he give the House any idea whether he can do anything about getting the report earlier?
§ Mr. Speaker
Strictly speaking I had called the hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. McMaster), so he ought not to be defeated by that notice.
§ Mr. McMaster
When implementing the report, will the Minister bear in mind that Harland and Wolff of Belfast have won contracts for the construction of 1084 many magnificent liners, including the Canberra, the largest built in this country since the Queens were finished?
§ Mr. Hay
We are well aware of that, but the difficulty is that every shipbuilding area in the country feels that it should be entitled to have a claim on the building of these liners if, and I emphasise that, the Government decide to give the sort of assistance for which the Cunard Company has asked. All these questions must be deferred until we receive advice from the Committee. It is only fair to say we want that advice before we come to a decision.