HC Deb 07 May 1973 vol 856 cc32-4
27. Mr. Willey

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement on the publication of the Booz-Allen Report on shipbuilding.

Mr. Anthony Grant

It is hoped to publish it very shortly.

Mr. Willey

Is the Minister aware that in Sunderland we are greatly encouraged not only by the dramatic upturn in shipbuilding orders but also by winning the Football Association Cup? Meanwhile the basic problems of shipbuilding remain, and the sooner we get down to discussing the Booz-Allen proposals the better.

Mr. Grant

I am delighted that everything is going well in Sunderland. I assure the right hon. Gentleman that there will be no delay in publishing the report.

Dame Irene Ward

Does the fairly long delay in publication of the Booz-Allen Report mean that it will be of great benefit to shipbuilders, especially those on the North-East Coast?

Mr. Grant

I very much hope that my hon. Friend, who I know has a particular interest in this subject, will not be disappointed.

Mr. Douglas

Does the hon. Gentleman concede that the delay in respect of this report is particularly harmful to the United Kingdom's chances of entering the market for highly technological ships like liquefied natural gas carriers? When are we likely to have the report and a decision on it?

Mr. Grant

I do not accept that the delay is harmful. It is a very important report. In terms of editing and publishing it has had to be dealt with very carefully. It will be published very soon.

Mr. Edward Taylor

In relation to Clyde and Govan Shipbuilders, does my hon. Friend agree that over the past year considerable progress has been made in industrial relations and in output and that we are doing very well? Will he take an early opportunity to tell the House what has happened, in view of the amount of taxpayers' money invested there?

Mr. Grant

I agree entirely with my hon. Friend that shipbuilding has improved, as have industrial relations. I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will consider very carefully what my hon. Friend has suggested and make a statement to the House.

Mr. Heffer

I hope that the hon. Gentleman will look not only at shipbuilding but also at the allied question of ship repairing, in which there is a real crisis in some parts of the country, especially Merseyside. Incidentally, although Sunderland has won the Cup, Liverpool has won the League. We are still very concerned about this problem. Can the Minister tell us that this aspect is being looked into carefully?

Mr. Grant

The short answer is "Yes". We are aware of the problems of the ship repairing industry. The hon. Gentleman has had meetings with my right hon. Friend. We are treating this very seriously.

Rev. Ian Paisley

Is the Undersecretary aware of the very serious situation that has arisen in Belfast in regard to the shipbuilding industry? In view of the amount of Government money invested in the Belfast shipyard, will he make a statement about the serious crisis there today?

Mr. Grant

I am not prepared to make a statement in that respect, but I will draw the matter to the attention of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry and of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.