HC Deb 17 February 1972 vol 831 cc589-90
3. Mr. Douglas

asked the Minister of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the technological research undertaken, by bodies responsible to his Department, on the problems involved in the construction of liquefied natural gas carriers.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. Peter Kirk)

The Naval Construction Research Establishment at Rosyth has carried out research into design aspects of liquefied natural gas carriers and has studied certain safety aspects connected with the dangers arising out of collisions at sea.

Mr. Douglas

Does the hon. Gentleman accept that the design studies carried out by the Establishment at Rosyth resulted in, among other things, the placing of seven orders with a French shipbuilding company? Would not it be better if both he and his right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry made an initiative both departmentally and industrially to ensure that this type of vessel was built in the United Kingdom?

Mr. Kirk

I do not accept that for one moment. The Establishment was asked to make an evaluation on behalf of a British shipowner to satisfy a third-party Government. That it did, and it was a normal customer-contractor relationship. There is no connection between that evaluation and where the order was placed.