HC Deb 19 December 1967 vol 756 c1069
25. Mr. Wingfield Digby

asked the Minister of Technology what estimate he has made of the price advantage brought to the shipbuilding industry by devaluation; and what evidence he has that this is bringing in fresh orders to British ship-yards.

Mr. Fowler

My right hon. Friend expects devaluation to improve significantly the industry's competitive position in world markets, but the effect on prices cannot be accurately estimated. There has already been an increase in the number of inquiries received by British shipbuilders. It is a bit too early to be sure how many of these will result in orders.

Mr. Digby

Is the hon. Gentleman aware that, to convert inquiries into fixed price contracts, more certainty is needed about the price of steel and about the whole of Government economic policy?

Mr. Fowler

I am not responsible for the whole of Government economic policy. On the subject of steel prices, discussions between the shipbuilders and the Steel Corporation about the future price of steel are now in progress, and I cannot anticipate the results of those discussions. My right hon. Friend and the Minister of Power will keep in close touch with those concerned.

Mr. David Price

If the hon. Gentleman wants to help British shipbuilding after devaluation, will he explain why the Government have refused the orders of the South African Government for frigates to Yarrow's and submarines to Scott's?

Mr. Fowler

I suggest that the hon. Gentleman puts down a Question.