HC Deb 12 December 1966 vol 738 cc34-5
69 and 70. Mr. Emrys Hughes

asked the Minister of Labour (1) how many men are employed on the Clyde on naval and merchant shipbuilding, respectively;

(2) how many men are employed in the United Kingdom on naval and merchant shipbuilding, respectively.

Mrs. Shirley Williams

The latest available estimates made by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Technology for particular areas are for August. They show that, in the main commercial shipyards on the Clyde, 2,900 men and boys were employed on new naval construction work and 12,300 on new merchant construction work. The most recent comparable estimates for the United Kingdom relate to September when the numbers were 12,600 and 49,200 respectively.

Mr. Hughes

Has my hon. Friend's attention been drawn to the fact that there is delay in supplying merchant shipping and that, as a result, we are falling very much behind Japan? Would it not help to expedite the delivery of merchant shipping if more men were taken off naval ship building and put on merchant ship building?

Mrs. Williams

That is not primarily a question for my Department, but studies now going on in connection with the Geddes Report may assist in speeding up the rate of merchant ship building.

Captain W. Elliot

Does not the hon. Lady agree that, in past years, the naval shipbuilding programmes have been instrumental in many cases in holding together the labour force in the shipyards?

Mrs. Williams

The Government believe that it is essential to maintain a high order book for shipbuilding without making profound distinctions as to the sort of shipping involved. We believe that the Clyde could handle a much greater volume of shipping orders.

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