HC Deb 08 May 1963 vol 677 cc422-3
25. Mr. P. Williams

asked the Minister of Transport why he will not adopt a scrap-and-build scheme.

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

We have not firmly ruled out this possibility, but the arguments against such a scheme are stronger than is generally realised. The position is very different from that which prevailed between the wars.

Mr. Williams

Will the Parliamentary Secretary recognise that, whilst I am not particularly an advocate of this proposition, the important thing now is that the Government should come to a conclusion and express their view publicly? I believe that at the moment orders are being held up pending a decision by the Government on whether or not to adopt this scheme. Therefore, will the Government publicly announce, in the shortest possible time, whether or not they support such a scheme as this?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

We hope to publish our decision at the earliest possible moment.

Mr. Strauss

Has there been any request by the shipping industry generally for the adoption of such a scheme, or is the industry very divided on the merits of the scheme?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

The Shipbuilding Conference and the trade unions concerned in the industry have both asked for a scrap-and-build scheme on more than one occasion.

Mr. McMaster

When considering this scheme, will my hon. and gallant Friend bear in mind the social consequences of heavy unemployment in the shipbuilding areas, particularly in Northern Ireland?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

Yes, Sir. We are deeply aware of that.

Sir L. Ropner

Is not my hon. and gallant Friend aware that the shipping industry has on more than one occasion expressed a complete disapproval of the introduction of a scrap-and-build scheme? Could he not, therefore, announce that this scheme will not be brought into effect?

Vice-Admiral Hughes Hallett

I am not in a position to make an announcement today, but I am aware of the point made by my hon. and gallant Friend. That, indeed, was one of the things I had in mind when I said in my original Answer that the arguments against such a scheme are stronger than are generally realised.

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