45. Mr. Edward M. Taylor
asked the Minister of Technology if he will make a statement on the order position in the Upper Clyde shipyards.
§ The Minister of Technology (Mr. Anthony Wedgwood Benn)
The estimated value of orders for new ships on hand with Upper Clyde yards at the end of 1967 was £86 million.
Does the Minister agree that the prosperity of the lower reaches is not being shared with the upper reaches and that there is a serious position and redundancy? Can he assure us that the new merger will not be allowed to founder by making sure, if necessary, that sufficient naval orders are available?
§ Mr. Shinwell
What my right hon. Friend has said about orders being disappointing is an understatement of the position. Is he aware that it is reported that the Russians have placed an order for 50 vessels in Japan? Is any attempt being made by the shipbuilders, backed by the Government, to obtain orders from the Soviet Union?
§ Mr. Benn
The possibility of orders for ships from the Soviet Union was discussed and is very much in mind. If my right hon. Friend asks whether anything has been done, of course the major effort is in reorganisation and as this works its way through, with the advantages of devaluation, we very much hope that the position will improve.