HC Deb 27 October 1960 vol 627 cc2557-9
2. Mr. Albu

asked the Minister of Education, as representing the Minister for Science, whether he has yet decided to publish the report by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research on shipbuilding.

17. Mr. Rankin

asked the Minister of Education, as representing the Minister for Science, when he proposes to publish the report of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research on the shipbuilding industry; and if he will make a statement.

Sir D. Eccles

The report, which was prepared by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, is the subject of confidential discussions between the Council and representatives of the Ministry of Transport, and the industry. The question of publication, which is one for the Council, will not arise so long as these discussions are in progress.

Mr. Albu

Does not the Minister think that it would be preferable to have this report published so that the criticisms could be answered point by point rather than have continued general criticisms of the industry and these rather vague and general replies?

Sir D. Eccles

The object of these reports is to produce action to make an industry more efficient. Therefore, the publication has to be considered in the light of the discussions with the industry on future action.

Mr. Rankin

Is not the right hon. Gentleman aware that this report has been very liberally leaked? Many of us believe that if was deliberately leaked. Does the right hon. Gentleman tell us that the attacks on the shipbuilding industry with regard to bad relationships, lack of standardisation and the quality of management, as reported in The Times, are not correct and not in keeping with the report?

Sir D. Eccles

The report in The Times that I saw purported to give the views of the D.S.I.R. about the shipping industry. Since those views are still under discussion now with the industry, it cannot be said to be correct in any way.

Dame Irene Ward

Is it not most unfair that a report of this kind, whether it leaked or not, should be allowed to be presented to the world, with all its repercussions throughout the world, when people who are really interested in this matter do not know what it is all about? This has caused the greatest consternation and anxiety, and I think that it is about time that the Government let us know what it is all about. I am not particularly concerned with the Director of Scientific and Industrial Research. For all I know, he may be worse than the report.

Mrs. White

Is the right hon. Gentleman also aware that, in addition to all these leaks which have caused very considerable disquiet, many people are asking questions about the wisdom of the Government in offering a very large subsidy to the Cunard Company at a time when there is so much public disquiet about the general state of the shipbuilding industry?

Sir D. Eccles

That is another question, but perhaps I could say in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Tynemouth (Dame Irene Ward) that the Council intends to publish a statement as soon as these discussions with the industry have been brought to a conclusion, and I would ask the House to wait for that statement.