HC Deb 12 February 1968 vol 758 cc927-8
6. Mr. Willey

asked the Minister of Technology what was the cost of the report by outside consultants on a scheme for the merger of Wear shipyards.

Mr. Fowler

I understand that the Shipbuilding Industry Board has offered a contribution of £12,600 towards the cost of this report.

Mr. Willey

I recognise that the negotiations must necessarily be confidential, but as their results will considerably affect Sunderland. and public money is involved, will my hon. Friend consider making a statement on the issues concerned in them?

Mr. Fowler

That would be singularly unwise at this stage. We can scarcely publish the Report; neither the Geddes Committee nor the Act envisaged the publication of Reports. for this would be scarcely conducive to progress in the negotiations. We hope for a rapid solution to this problem.

Mr. Wingfield Digby

Has the Shipbuilding Industry Board agreed to contribute to any further merger investigations of this kind beyond the ones we already know of?

Mr. Fowler

I do not think that that question arises from the main Question. As far as I am aware, the answer at present is, "No".

Mr. David Price

Am I correct in believing that, although these yards have not yet produce a successful merger. they have already worked together in a Liberty ship replacement order?

Mr. Fowler

That is scarcely correct. Two of the yards have worked together, namely Austin and Pickersgill and Bartrams, but these are all separate firms. The other three yards on the Wear are a part of a single firm, the Doxford and Sunderland Shipbuilding and Engineering Company.