HC Deb 14 February 1962 vol 653 cc1283-4
1. Mr. Hector Hughes

asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware of the succcess of German, Dutch, Scandinavian and other foreign shipyards in their competition for relevant orders with British, and particularly Scottish, shipyards, and that this is causing increasing unemployment in certain British shipyards, particularly in Aberdeen; and if he will state the results of his investigation into the effects of these conditions on the increased unemployment in the British shipyards affected and the steps he is now taking, giving details, to attract orders to, and reduce unemployment in, those shipyards.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport (Vice-Admiral John Hughes Hallett)

We have no information about Aberdeen shipyards losing orders to foreign yards. But Scotland as a whole has been quite successful recently in capturing both British and foreign orders.

Mr. Hughes

Does not the Minister agree that it would be a great advantage to the British Navy if in future ships built for registration in Britain were registered separately from those registered abroad?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

That is rather a different question.

24. Mr. Milne

asked the Minister of Transport what assistance in securing orders he is prepared to give to the smaller British shipyards who have adapted themselves to the changing conditions of their industry.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

These yards should be in a better position to secure new orders than those which have not been modernised. It is not the policy of the Government in placing its own orders to give preference on other than competitive considerations, or to try to persuade other people to do so.

Mr. Milne

Does not the Minister realise that this reply will be a little disappointing to many smaller yards which have equipped themselves to meet modern conditions? Is he not aware that there are many restricted tenders which lay down that yards must have built certain types of ship before they can be considered? Will he look into the matter very closely, in view of the fact that we have such a shipyard in my constituency, which the Parliamentary Secretary has visited?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

We will certainly consider these points, but we should be very reluctant indeed to depart from the general principle of competitive tender. We shall have an opportunity of debating this in greater detail tomorrow.

Mr. Shinwell

As the Government hitherto have done nothing at all for the British shipbuilding industry, why cannot they provide the facilities for the home industry which they are providing for exports in shipbuilding? Why this desire to promote exports when it cannot be made effective unless at the same time we build up the home industry, otherwise everything becomes more expensive?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

With great respect to the right hon. Gentleman, this anticipates another Question on the Order Paper. In any case, I do not think that I could effectively deal with this matter, of which we are well aware, in Question and Answer. Perhaps this can be raised in the debate tomorrow. I have no doubt that it will be raised then.

Mr. P. Browne

Does not my hon. and gallant Friend think that the best service he can render to the small shipyards is to protect our own coastal shipping fleet?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

No. Sir. I do not think that that is so. I do not agree with that.

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