HC Deb 07 February 1977 vol 925 cc489-90W
Mr. Small

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on his proposals for the management of the Government's shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engine building interests.

Mr. Varley

The Government are greatly concerned at the delay to the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill and the damage this is causing to the long-term future of the aircraft and shipbuilding industries. The Government are wholly committed to securing the enactment of this Bill at the earliest opportunity.

Meanwhile I propose to establish a company—National Shipbuilders and Repairers Ltd.—that will hold in trust on behalf of the Government publicly owned shareholdings in shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engine building companies and undertake functions of management and of monitoring on behalf of the Department of Industry.

The boards of the companies will continue to be responsible for direct management and control of all activities of the companies, including, for example, selling, industrial relations and wage negotiations.

The new company will have a crucial rôle in seeking orders for the British shipbuilding industry to support the marketing effort of the individual companies.

The company's chairman will be Sir Anthony Griffin, and Mr. Michael Casey, the Under-Secretary at present responsible for shipbuilding matters in my Department will be its chief executive; he will also be appointed acting managing director of the Organising Committee for British Shipbuilders which is preparing for public ownership. The board will include full-time members of the Shipbuilding Organising Committee for their remaining periods with the Organising Committee and Mr. John Chalmers and Les Gregory who will be non-executive directors. There will be further appointments.

The company's functions will be absorbed into British Shipbuilders as soon as that is established. Meanwhile its activities will help to offset the damage caused by the delay to the enactment of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill and will facilitate vesting when the Bill is passed.

The main office of the company will be combined with that of the Organising Committee for British Shipbuilders.

I will make a fuller statement on the company, its board membership and its functions, when my consultations on its establishment are completed.

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