§ 61. Mr. Osborne
asked the First Lord of the Admiralty if he is aware that shipowners are deferring the placement of orders for new ships, and are seeking cancellation of outstanding contracts because of the rising costs of shipbuilding in this country; that the finishing trades are not fully employed because of the lack of new passenger ships being built; and, in order to prevent widespread unemployment in this industry, if he will call a conference of all interested parties with the object of reducing costs.
§ Mr. J. P. L. Thomas
I am aware of the anxiety which exists about shipbuilding costs in this country. Shipowners have their representative organisation through which they can make known142W their views to the representative organisation of the shipbuilding industry. The matter is one for discussion between these parties and I do not at present propose to interfere with the normal arrangements for consultations of this nature.
Some fluctuation in the requirements for finishing trades is inescapable because of changes in the types of ships in the construction programmes of individual shipyards. Total employment in shipbuilding has, however, increased in the last three years; the small drop in employment on merchant shipbuilding caused by the steel shortage has been more than offset by the increased numbers employed on building and fitting-out naval vessels.