HC Deb 06 July 1971 vol 820 cc340-1W
Mr. McMaster

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a further statement on Harland and Wolff, following the announcement on 3rd March. 1971, by the Ministry of Commerce for Northern Ireland, that the existing company would continue under strengthened management and that financial assistance would be provided by the Northern Ireland Government.

Mr. Ridley

The Minister of Commerce for Northern Ireland is announcing today that Viscount Rochdale will become part-time chairman of the company with effect from Thursday 8th July. Mr. Alan Watt at present acting chairman will become deputy chairman and Mr. Iver Hoppe will be appointed full-time managing director, taking up his post this autumn. Mr. Hoppe has, since 1964, been managing director of the Odense Steel Shipyard Limited in Denmark.

The Minister of Commerce is also announcing the form in which further financial assistance will be given. His Ministry will subscribe at par for 4 million of the authorised but unissued £1 ordinary shares in the company giving a holding of 47.6 per cent. of the enlarged ordinary capital. As soon as practicable a further sum expected to be in the region of £2 million to £3 million will be provided by way of a grant. This grant, together with the share subscription, will, in the opinion of the Northern Ireland Government and of the company, be sufficient to enable the company to become fully viable.

In addition, the existing £3½ million secured loan from the Northern Ireland Government to Harland and Wolff will be re-scheduled to provide for repayment over 33 years from 1st July, 1974, and interest on this loan will be waived until 31st December, 1974.

The Minister of Commerce is making it clear that, once this financial support has been given, there will be no question of his Government accepting any responsibility for making good any deficiency in the company's resources, should it get into financial difficulties in the future. The United Kingdom Government fully agree with this attitude and, for their part, would not accept any such responsibility.

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