HC Deb 26 October 1960 vol 627 cc2339-40
9. Mr. Albu

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is taking to assist the shipbuilding industry to cope with the serious difficulties it is going to face during the next few years.

26. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement on the investigation being undertaken by the special Sub-Committee of the Shipbuilding Advisory Committee.

Mr. Marples

The Sub-Committee of the Shipbuilding Advisory Committee, which is considering the future of the shipbuilding industry, is working as rapidly as possible, but I am not yet in a position to say when it will report. Meanwhile, my right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade has announced that the Export Credits Guarantee Department will give better terms for guaranteeing export credits for shipbuilders. I am also considering representations the Shipbuilding Conference have made to me about other aspects of the problem of credits.

Mr. Albu

Has the right hon. Gentleman seen the Report by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research which has not so far been published but which is, I believe—according to reports in the Press—extremely critical of the technical ability of the industry, and particularly of its employment of scientific staff on research? Will he ensure, if he is to go on with the monstrous folly of building the Cunarder, that at any rate tenders are put out to the maximum technical as well as economic competition?

Mr. Marples

In regard to the second part of the hon. Gentleman's Question, I do not think that he need worry about the technical aspect. We shall certainly look at that, through the Government's agencies. As to the first part of the supplementary question, the Report is made not to me but to the Minister of Science; but it is being discussed between the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, the industry and my own Department, and when it reaches a suitable stage the Advisory Committee will look at it.

Mr. Fernyhough

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the shipbuilding industry is still suffering from the embargo placed by the Government on trade with certain countries? If so, could not that embargo be removed?

Mr. Marples

; I should like notice of that question, but I certainly have not heard of that from the shipbuilding industry itself.