HC Deb 05 March 1963 vol 673 cc175-7
1. Mrs. Butler

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what has been the result of his inquiry into the possibility of using spare capacity in shipyards for the manufacture of house-building components and whether he will make a statement.

15. Mr. Millan

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works if he will now make a statement on industrialised building, particularly in reference to the use of shipyard facilities in this respect.

16. Mr. Ross

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works what progress has been made in the study of such building techniques as will permit the use of unused shipbuilding capacity for industrial building purposes.

18. Mr. Lawson

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he is yet able to make a statement on the results of his inquiry into the possible use of surplus shipbuilding capacity for prefabricated industrial building.

25. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Public Building and Works whether he will make a further statement on the use of shipyards for work alternative to shipbuilding.

The Minister of Public Building and Works (Mr. Geoffrey Rippon)

The team which I appointed on 2nd January this year presented its Report to me last Thursday. I am urgently considering the Report and will make a statement shortly.

Mrs. Butler

As a scheme of this kind could both help to reduce the cost and speed up the erection of houses and other buildings while at the same time making a valuable contribution to employment in the North-East and Clydeside, may I ask the Minister whether the Report indicates which types of building components are suitable for this type of production, and has he any idea whether a pilot scheme will be started and where?

Mr. Rippon

I appreciate the potentialities, and that is why the inquiry was set up. I do not think that it would be appropriate for me to try to summarise or deal with parts of the Report until I have had an opportunity to consider it in full.

Mr. Millan

Can the right hon. Gentleman say whether the Report will be published, and whether he has had specific proposals from shipbuilders to help in the development of this kind of work?

Mr. Rippon

I shall certainly consider publication. There are, of course, parts of the Report which include confidential information supplied from shipyards. The inquiry was limited to shipyards in two areas, in the North-East and Scotland. It is, of course, of general application and undoubtedly great interest has been shown in the work of the team.

Mr. Ross

Is the Minister aware that we consider this a useful and desirable piece of diversification in these areas? Can he tell us whether he has had any discussion with the Scottish Office and the development unit as to the possibility of its application in respect of Scottish building needs?

Mr. Rippon

I certainly have in mind that there will be consultations with other Departments and interests concerned now that the Report is available. It is not, of course, a question of just the potentialities of the scheme. We have to consider such matters as the design, the assembly and the market.

Mr. Lawson

In view of the fact that the Scottish steel industry is functioning at only about 50 per cent. of capacity, will the Minister take very closely into account the fact that this might mean the additional use of steel? Has he any knowledge of how the steel industry will be affected?

Mr. Rippon

I appreciate the difficulties that exist and I want to be as helpful as possible, but what I do not want to do at this stage is to offer too optimistic a forecast of the possibilities.

Mr. Willey

In view of what the right hon. Gentleman has said, may I ask him to consider extending the nature of this inquiry to consider other forms of alternative work that might be done in shipyards? Will he also consider, in view of the interest in this, publishing as much of the Report as he can?

Mr. Rippon

So far as wider inquiries are concerned, that is another matter. We have set up this specific inquiry and I shall study it and report to the House as soon as possible. I shall certainly bear in mind the question of publication.