§ Mr. Touhig
To ask the President of the Board of Trade if she will make a statement about the availability of Shipbuilding Intervention Fund grants for 1998. 
§ Mrs. Beckett
I have decided to extend the Shipbuilding Intervention Fund for currently eligible yards until 31 December 1998. The rates of support will be unchanged from those in 1997, namely 9 per cent. for large ships and 4.5 per cent. for small ships, both rates inclusive of Shipbuilders' Relief of 2 per cent. These are the maximum rates permitted within the EU's Seventh Shipbuilding Directive.
I will be considering the overall future of the Fund beyond 1998 in the light of progress in negotiations for the abolition of shipbuilding subsidies in the European Union and the OECD, and also in the context of the Government's Comprehensive Spending Review.