5. Viscount COLVILLE of CULROSS
asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether they will answer the following questions, in the light of the Lord Privy Seal's Written Answer on 14th October 1976 (cols. 595 to 602):
Richards (Shipbuilders) Limited
Why is it not correct to treat Athel Line Limited as an "associated ship-repairing company", on the grounds that, on 31st July 1974, it was a member of the same group of companies, and in the relevant financial year had contracts to repair or maintain ships which were not its own, and had contracted or sub-contracted the work to another company or companies, remaining liable under its contracts respectively with the owners of the 1067WA ships and the contractors or sub-contractors?
B. P. Tanker Company Limited
Why is this company not included in the list of shiprepairers in Schedule 2 to the Bill as a result of the following:—
- (a) on 31st July 1974 a ship belonging to another company was in drydock for repair; B. P. Tanker Company Limited had a contract with the owner to repair or maintain the ship and had contracted or subcontracted the work to another company, remaining liable under its contracts with the owner of the ship and the contractor or sub-contractor;
- (b) two other ships belonging to the company were, on that date, in dry dock in circumstances whereby the company had licences to occupy the drydocks;
- (c) the company's turnover for the relevant financial year exceeded £3.4 million?
If any of these facts are incorrect, will Her Majesty's Government state which, and in what respect, and what are the true facts?
Humber St. Andrews Engineering Company Limited
Who did have a licence to occupy the drydock in which the "Kingston Emerald" was being repaired? If nobody had such a licence, how could the repairs have taken place, since they were not carried out by the drydock owner?
Scott Lithgow Drydocks Ltd.
On what date in August 1976 did the member of the public request photocopies of the company's accounts?
Westminster Dredging Company Ltd.
Is it true that:—
- (a) on 31st July 1974 a third naval destroyer, H.M.S. Birmingham, was in drydock at Birkenhead?
- (b) this company had an interest in possession in, or at least a licence to occupy that drydock and another drydock in Birkenhead and another in Southampton?
- (c) on that date and before and after that date this company was engaged in repairing or maintaining or refitting ships belonging to other companies?
- (d) this company's turnover in the relevant financial year exceeded £3.4 million?
If any of the above facts are incorrect, will Her Majesty's Government state which, and in what respect, and what are the true facts?
6. When will the Department of Industry (or any other Department concerned) cease using the files at Companies House concerning numerous shipowning companies, so that members of the public may inspect them?
§ 6 Lord PEART
the Government have inquired into the questions raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Colville of Culross. These are clearly directed to the issue of possible hybridity in the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill and nothing arising from them affects the Government's confidence that Schedule 2 is correctly drafted to express their intentions and does not involve any element of hybridity.
The companies referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 of Lord Colville of Culross's Question (Athel Line Limited and BP Tanker Company Limited) incurred contractual obligations as managers or charterers in relation to the repair or maintenance of ships owned by other persons and consequently to fulfil these obligations the companies may have on or before the relevant date entered into contracts with other persons for the repair of those ships. However, neither the repair of one or more ships by a manager or charterer, nor the procuring of the carrying out of repairs by other persons, causes the manager or charterer to be engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships.
First, in carrying out or procuring the carrying out of the repairs, the position of a manager or charterer is analogous to that of an owner. He may, like an owner, be carrying out or procuring the carrying out of repairs to ships in the course of his business as a manager or charterer, but this is distinct from being engaged in the business of ship-repairing. Secondly, there is a clear distinction between being a party to a contract which may involve inter alia an 1069WA obligation to keep a ship in good repair and being a party as a repairer to a contract for the repair of a ship. Consequently in determining whether a company was engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships, transactions relating to ships on charter to or managed by the company in question must be treated in the same way as transactions relating to ships owned by the company and must be disregarded.
In the light of the foregoing the answers to the specific questions put by Lord Colville of Culross are:
Paragraph 1 Richards (Shipbuilders)Limited
Athel Line Limited was not at the end of the relevant financial year concerned in any way in the repairing, refitting or maintaining of any ships otherwise than as owner or manager. Consequently it was not an associated shiprepairing company in relation to Richards (Shipbuilders) Limited for the purpose of paragraph 3 of Schedule 2 to the Bill.
Paragraph 2 BP Tanker Company Limited
BP Tanker Company Limited was not on 31st July 1974 concerned in any way in the repair of any ship otherwise than as owner or charterer. Consequently the company was not engaged in the, business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships on that date. Moreover on that date the company did not have an interest in possession or a licence to occupy a dry dock or graving dock within the meaning of paragraph 3(i)(b) of Part II of Schedule 2 to the Bill.
Paragraph 3 Humber St. Andrews Engineering Company Limited
The relevant information is that set out in paragraph 9 of my reply to Lord Colville of Culross's Question of 11th October. On the relevant date the dry-dock was owned and operated by the British Transport Docks Board. The fact that Humber St. Andrews Engineering Company Limited had permission to work on a ship in the dry-dock did not mean that this company had a licence to occupy the dock.
Paragraph 4 Scott Lithgow Drydocks Limited
A firm of solicitors asked for photocopies of the company's accounts on 3rd August 1976 and these were provided on 5th August.1070WA
Paragraph 5 Westminster Dredging Company Limited
The principal activity of the company is dredging and land reclamation, and was so at the relevant time. It is not, and was not engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships.
The answers to the questions specifically asked are:
- (a) On 31st July 1974 Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Limited were renting a dry-dock in Birkenhead from the Westminster Dredging Company Limited. The dock was being used for work on HMS Birmingham (a new Type 42 destroyer) for the Ministry of Defence. Westminister Dredging Company Limited was not engaged in this work in any way.
- (b) On the date in question the company had an interest in possession in one or more dry docks in Birkenhead and a dry dock at Southampton.
- (c) The company has from time to time carried out repairs on its own vessels. The company has, also, on rare and irregular occasions performed repair work on pontoon vessels for one fellow member of the same group, Land and Marine Engineering Limited. This work was done on a non-profit-making basis, and not in any way as a separate business. As already stated, the company's principal activity is and was dredging and land reclamation. It did not at any time hold itself out to be or regard itself as a ship-repairer, nor has it at any time tendered for shiprepairing work. In the light of the foregoing, the company was not engaged in the business of repairing, refitting or maintaining ships on 31st July 1974.
- (d) The company's turnover for the relevant financial year was £11.1 million.
ParagraphCompanies House Files
Government Departments require access to company files from time to lime for various purposes, including providing considered answers to questions such as those raised above. When a file in use by a Government Department is requested by a member of the public the file is recalled and made available usually within 48 hours at the very most.
House adjourned at three minutes past midnight.