HC Deb 23 January 1991 vol 184 c320
16. Mr. Salmond

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his current estimate of the capacity of, and employment in, the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry.

Mr. Leigh

Around 28,000 are employed in shipbuilding in the United Kingdom, of whom about 6,500 are in merchant shipbuilding. Merchant shipbuilding capacity is 205,000 compensated gross tonnes. Comparable figures are not available for warshipbuilding.

Mr. Salmond

Will the Minister come clean with the House and admit that the Government's policy proposals under the seventh directive will accelerate the decline in the shipbuilding industry? Can he point to even one policy measure from this Government which will arrest and reverse that decline rather than making the industry's problems worse?

Mr. Leigh

Contrary to what the hon. Gentleman says, it is in the interests of the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry for subsidies to be reduced. That is why we argued for a reduction in the intervention funding and why it has been agreed to reduce it from 20 per cent. to 13 per cent. for large ships and to 9 per cent. for small ships. That reduction is in the interests of the United Kingdom because we have led the way in restructuring European shipbuilding. It will be particularly helpful to warship-building yards such as Cammell Laird and Swan Hunter.