HC Deb 29 March 1976 vol 908 cc884-5
15. Mr. Adley

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will seek a meeting with the Ship and Boat Builders National Federation.

The Secretary of State for Industry (Mr. Eric G. Varley)

No, Sir, but I am always willing to listen to any representations it may wish to make.

Mr. Adley

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for taking the trouble to come to the House when the Department of Industry's Questions are second on the Order Paper. Will he agree that the ship and boat building industry represented by this Federation has excellent industrial relations and a good export record and that it never makes a call on the public purse? As the industry has been clobbered now by successive Governments, especially by his own through the 25 per cent. VAT, will the right hon. Gentleman take the trouble personally to meet representatives of the industry so that they may tell him of its problems and of its potential for the future?

Mr. Varley

I have had no direct request from the industry or from the Federation, but if such a request is made, I shall, of course, consider it. I confirm what the hon. Gentleman said—that industrial relations in the industry are very good and that it has made every effort to boost exports, with, I think, some success. I know that the hon. Gentleman will not expect me to comment on the budgetary aspects of the matter.

Mr. Tom King

Apart from the Ship and Boat Builders National Federation, will the Secretary of State confirm that he has met the ship owners today? Will he tell us what proposals he has put before them to help in the present problem of orders in British shipyards?

Mr. Varley

I have not met the ship owners today. I shall be meeting them this afternoon, and it would not be appropriate to go into those other matters until I have met them.