HC Deb 22 March 1961 vol 637 cc359-60
14. Mr. McKay

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the shipbuilding and ship-repairing position in the Tyneside area, compared with what it was a year ago, with particular reference to the Wallsend shipyards.

The Joint Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Mr. John Hay)

The position of shipbuilding and ship-repairing in Wallsend and on Tyneside generally has not changed significantly in the past year.

Mr. McKay

Does not the hon. Gentleman agree that that position does not constitute the best possible climate for employment? Will he keep his eye on the Tyneside district and see if he can do something to improve conditions?

Mr. Hay

The fact that the situation has not deteriorated in the last year, considering what has been happening in shipbuilding and ship-repairing generally, is not to be sneezed at. We are not complacent about the situation, either in that area or elsewhere. We will do what we can to help.

Mr. Mellish

It is a curious thing to say that if a situation has not got worse then that makes it rather good. Has the Ministry any particular plans? What are its ideas and hopes for the future?

Mr. Hay

Perhaps the hon. Member will put down a Question about that.

Mr. Dudley Williams

Is my hon. Friend aware that the shipbuilding industry all over the country is suffering from severe competition from the Continent, as shipyards there are undercutting our prices? Does not he agree that if our industry and the trade unions in it do not look out, there will not be any employment in the industry at all?

Mr. Hay

My hon. Friend has pointed out the absolute necessity for the shipbuilding and repairing industries to be competitive.