§ 79. Sir C. Osborne
asked the Minister of Transport if he is aware that the contract for the conversion of the former Bibby Line troopship "Oxfordshire" of 20,000 tons has been awarded to a Dutch yard at a value of £2,300,000; if he will take steps to assist the British shipbuilding industry to secure such contracts and thus safeguard the livelihood of British shipworkers; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Marples
"Oxfordshire" was returned to her owners last December when trooping by sea ended, and contracts for work now to be done on the ship are entirely a matter for them. I understand that yards in this country were invited to tender for this work but that the contract was awarded to a Dutch yard because of a combination of technical and commercial factors. According to Press reports these included willingness to accept substantial penalty clauses for late delivery. In these circumstances there does not seem to be any action which the Government could appropriately have taken to retain the contract for a yard in this country.