HC Deb 24 March 1964 vol 692 cc225-7
25 and 26. Sir W. Teeling

asked the Secretary of State for the Colonies (1) what grant loan or subsidy has been made by Her Majesty's Government since 15th February 1963 to the company running the Malta dockyard;

(2) what assets of Bailey, Malta, Ltd. to which Her Majesty's Government have contributed have been sold or disposed of by the Council of Administration set up in February, 1963.

Mr. Sandys

Since the date in question, a loan of about £2½4 million has been advanced to the company for the development of the dockyard and for working capital. No grants or subsidies have been provided. I understand that the company has disposed of interests in certain subsidiaries.

Sir W. Teeling

As to the second part of my right hon. Friend's reply, can he say whether any of the plant and machinery in the dockyards has been sold—and the proceeds included in those figures—or advertised for sale? Further, can my right hon. Friend tell us how far the figures prove that there has been a loss since the dockyards have been taken over? Is that why the grants have been given?

Mr. Sandys

I am not sure about individual bits of machinery. What I do know is that most of the subsidiary companies that have been sold were running at a loss, and that is why they have been disposed of.

I see nothing in my reply to indicate that things have been running at a loss. We always envisaged providing money up to £7¼ million for the conversion of the dockyard and, of course, we are still well within that figure. There is no doubt that the dockyard is now running extremely efficiently. It has a full order book, and whereas previously it was largely dependent on Admiralty orders, the bulk of its work is now commercial, and at competitive prices.

Mr. Awbery

Has any inquiry been made into the suspension of C. H. Bailey from Malta over two years ago and is any report to be made to the House of the circumstances which compelled the Government to withdraw work from that firm and hand it to a north of England company?

Mr. Sandys

The reasons for the take over were fully explained to the House at the time. As the whole matter is now the subject of litigation, I do not want to go into details about that.