HC Deb 25 May 1960 vol 624 cc425-6
16. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Transport who will be the chairman of the special Sub-Committee of the Shipbuilding Advisory Committee, which is to study the future of the industry.

The Minister of Transport (Mr. Ernest Marples)

Sir James Dunnett, who is Permanent Secretary of my Ministry.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Can we, then, be assured that there will be the fullest official co-operation to supply him with all the information, because this industry is an extremely important one in which we have long led the world and it is important that this inquiry should be a thorough one and that there should be full investigation in the shipbuilding areas?

Mr. Marples

Yes, that is so. I attach the greatest importance to this decision to have this Sub-Committee, because it has been many years before we were able to set it up.

Mr. Mellish

We do not yet know—do we?—the terms of reference of this Sub-Committee. When are we to be told what the terms of reference are? May we have an assurance that it will do a specific job and not just provide reasons for having yet another committee?

Mr. Marples

It is not a committee set up for that purpose at all, but is part of the full Shipbuilding Advisory Committee and it will report to that Committee in the first instance. It can consider any matters relevant to the future of the shipbuilding and ship-repairing industries.

Dame Irene Ward

Is the inquiry to include dry docks? May I also know whether the Treasury will agree to what the Sub-Committee recommends, if and when it does recommend action? May also know how long my right hon. Friend thinks the inquiry will take?

Mr. Marples

As to the first part of my hon. Friend's supplementary question, it will consider dry docks. As to the second part, I do not know whether the Treasury will agree. As to the third, I do not know when it will report.

Mr. Slater

Is it the intention of the Sub-Committee to travel up and down the country where the shipbuilding yards are? Or is it the intention just to sit and wait for reports to come to it and then to consider them?

Mr. Marples

There is no need for the Sub-Committee to travel, because it consists of people belonging to the Shipbuilding Conference, the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation and the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions. They are absolutely fully aware of the conditions in the shipyards.

Mr. Willey

Can the right hon. Gentleman say when he will face this issue? Does he realise that he is just creating the impression that he is dodging it?

Mr. Marples

I am quite certain that that is the hon. Gentleman's spoken word, but I do not think that he believes it in his own heart.

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