HC Deb 08 November 1976 vol 919 cc7-10
5. Mr. Canavan

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a further statement about the progress of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill.

Mr. Kaufman

The Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill has completed Report stage in another place and the debate on Third Reading there is scheduled for tomorrow.

Mr. Canavan

In view of the importance of the Bill to the workers in the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, will my hon. Friend make a special plea to the Scottish and Welsh nationalists—especially those who pretend to be Left-wing back in their constituencies—to have the courage of their convictions for once and vote with us this week instead of meekly obeying their party Whips by going into the Lobby with a Right-wing ragbag of Tories, Liberals and Ulster Unionists?

Mr. Kaufman

A number of shipyards in Scotland are in jeopardy, and the consequences to Scottish Aviation of the failure of the Bill to pass will be exceptionally grave. It is for Opposition Members who for those reasons did not oppose the original guillotine motion on the Bill to consider whether three months later more delay is acceptable to the workers in those industries.

Mr. Wigley

Will the Minister tell his hon. Friend that if the Government had accepted the amendment put forward by Plaid Cymru to cut out the ship-repairing industry the Bill would have had a greater chance of going through? Will he accept that the vast majority of people who have anything to do with the ship-repairing industry—including the comments in yesterday's Sunday Times—point out the absolute stupidity of nationalisation?

Mr. Kaufman

The hon. Gentleman will have his opportunity later in the week to raise ship repairing. No doubt the House will discuss it in detail. It is for him and his hon. Friends to weigh the consequences for 300 ship-repairing workers in South Wales whose jobs are not in jeopardy with the consequences for 4,500 aircraft workers in North Wales, near his constituency, whose jobs will be in considerable danger if the Bill does not go through.

Mr. Robert Hughes

Does my hon. Friend accept that the Managing Director of Scottish Aviation has told the workers there that unless the nationalisation proposals are proceeded with the company will be in liquidation in the spring?

Mr. Kaufman

I would not like to comment upon what may or may not have been said in Scottish Aviation. What I will say with all due gravity is that if Scottish Aviation does not come within British Aerospace within a measurable period the consequences will be extremely grave for the workers there.

Mrs. Bain

Will the Minister accept that SNP Members are listening extremely carefully to his pronouncements on job opportunities? Will he therefore take this opportunity to confirm or deny rumours currently circulating in Scotland that the Organising Committee has in mind 30 per cent, redundancy throughout the shipbuilding industry and the closure of three yards?

Mr. Kaufman

I can deny such rumours categorically. We have not had any report or recommendations from the Organising Committee about the future of shipyards anywhere in Great Britain. Unless the Organising Committee of British Shipbuilders is swiftly turned into British Shipbuilders as a corporation, there will undoubtedly be thousands of redundancies in Scottish shipyards.

Mr. Warren

Will the Minister say how it will be possible to have the debate which he says we can have when we bear in mind that the total number of Lords amendments, if voted on, will take up more than the time he is proposing to allow for such a debate?

Mr. Kaufman

If the hon. Gentleman examines the proceedings in another place, he will find that all amendments which have been debated and passed there are on matters which have been discussed during the 58 sittings of the Standing Committee and on Report in this House—for example, the subject of ship repairing, debate on which I ensured against querulousness from the Opposition. These matters have now been debated in this House for a total of 269 hours. It is about time the Bill was enacted.

Mr. Heseltine

Is the hon. Gentleman saying that there is to be no time for a debate, or is he agreeing with the suggestion from Plaid Cymru that a debate on ship repairing should take place?

Mr. Kaufman

If the timetable motion is passed this evening, we shall employ the arrangements that were made last time in deciding how the debate will be allocated. It was I who last time insisted, with the disagreement of the Opposition, that ship repairing should be debated. I have no doubt that if the timetable motion is passed we shall debate ship repairing and vote on it.

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