HC Deb 01 March 1961 vol 635 cc1580-1
25. Mr. Woodnutt

asked the Civil Lord of the Admiralty if he will advance the placing of orders in respect of the shipbuilding programme in order to dispel the uncertainties facing all those engaged in the industry.

Mr. C. Ian Orr-Ewing

The naval shipbuilding programme is so phased as to give the most efficient Fleet within the Admiralty's available resources. I regret, therefore, that within these resources I cannot advance the placing of orders for new construction.

Mr. Woodnutt

Will not the Minister agree that if he could plan over two, three or even four years, it would not only assist his Department but would remove a lot of uncertainty which exists in the industry about its future? If it would help him, would it be a good idea for me to put down a Question on the subject to the Chancellor of the Exchequer?

Mr. Orr-Ewing

In yesterday's debate my right hon. Friend the Minister of Defence made it clear that we were planning our defence orders up to five years ahead. I point out to my hon. Friend that although we put 90 per cent. of our shipbuilding orders out to commercial yards, this employs only 8 per cent. of the people in the shipbuilding industry, and even a considerable acceleration in our programme will not solve the problem facing the shipbuilding industry.