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Aircraft And Shipbuilding Industries

Volume 889: debated on Monday 24 March 1975

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26.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will include home orders for ships in the new inflation risk insurance scheme with a view to saving foreign currency by encouraging United Kingdom shipowners to build their vessels in home yards.

The Government have no plans at present to extend the cost escalation scheme to shipbuilding for United Kingdom owners.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what representations he received which led to his decision to include in his nationalisation proposals aircraft manufacturerers with a turnover of £7 ·5 million instead of £20 million resulting in the inclusion of Scottish Aviation.

I received representations from a wide range of sources including the CSEU, asking me to widen the scope of public ownership, which would have the effect of bringing in Scottish Aviation Ltd. Representations asking specifically that the company should be included were made by the President of the AUEW, by the Ayrshire District Secretary of the AUEW, by the Convener of Shop Stewards at the company, by the Joint Office Committee of AUEW (TASS) at BAC Hurn and by the Bristol Aircraft Workers' Study Group. In addition the management of the company told me it might face a difficult future outside the new corporation.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his estimate of the approximate number of employees and annual cost of the headquarters organisation for the proposed State-owned Shipbuilding Corporation.

Estimates of this kind will not be possible until the organising committee has considered the form of organisation.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what activities, other than shipbulding, ship repairing, and marine engineering, are carried out by the companies listed for nationalisation in his recent statement.

It is not practicable to provide complete details, but information on the activities of the companies listed for nationalisation in my right hon. Friend's written statement of 17th March —[Vol. 888, c. 1146 –1165.]—can be obtained from their annual reports which are available from Companies House in London or the Office for the Registration of Companies in Edinburgh as appropriate.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what representations he received before 17th March from workers in any of the shipbuilding and ship repairing companies listed for nationalisation expressing their concern at his proposals.

There have been three written representations from workers expressing their concern. In addition workers attending meetings with Ministers in the Department have asked for clarification or assurances on matters arising from the Government's public ownership proposals.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he intends that his proposed nationalised British Shipbuilders shall have a national sales organisation.

This is one of the points which will be considered by the organising committee.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he intends that pension funds, insurance companies and unit trusts which are shareholders in shipbuilding or aircraft firms to be nationalised shall be entitled to receive cash rather than Government stock as compensation for the shares being taken from them.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he can confirm that in arriving at the compensation to be paid for the shipbuilding and aircraft companies to be nationalised no deduction will be made in respect of Government aid made to the companies after 28th February 1974.

Yes, except in so far as deductions are necessary to ensure that the Government get what they pay for; but as my right hon. Friend explained in his statement to the House last Monday, 17th March 1975, expectations about future Government aid of a discretionary kind will not be taken into account in valuing for compensation unless the terms of the aid had been settled with the company by 28th February 1974.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how the six-month period to be taken into account for the purpose of arriving at the average share price of the shipbuilding and aircraft companies to be nationalised compares with the length of the period taken in arriving at the price of the nationalised steel companies; and what is the reason for the difference.

A six-month reference period was also offered when the steel companies were nationalised in 1949 and renationalised in 1967. An exceptionally long alternative period of five years was offered in 1967 to meet the special circumstances of a renationalisation. Then, as now, the choice paid particular attention to the incidence of General Elections.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what ideas he has received from those working in the shipbuilding industry and related industries as to how industrial democracy can be brought about as referred to in his written statement of 17th March.

We have received ideas about industrial democracy from several sources, but it is for those concerned to decide whether they wish to make their views public.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) in which town each of the companies in the shipbuilding, ship repairing, marine engineering and aircraft industries listed for nationalisation has a works or yard employing more than 100 people;(2) how many people are employed by each of the companies in the aircraft, shipbuilding and related industries listed for nationalisation.

I am looking into the provision of this information and will contact the hon. Member as soon as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will have to approve the salary to be paid to the Chairman of British Shipbuilders; and what salary level he would regard as appropriate.

My right hon. Friend will determine the salary with the consent of the Minister for the Civil Service. No decision on salary level has yet been taken.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what criteria led to his excluding Westland Aircraft and Britten Norman from his nationalisation proposals.

Westland Aircraft is excluded because my right hon. Friend's proposals do not include its main activity, the manufacture of helicopters, and Britten-Norman (Bembridge) because its turnover did not exceed £7½ million in the relevant year.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his estimate as to the cost to the State of the proposed takeover of the aircraft, shipbuilding and related industries.

As my right hon. Friend explained to the House last Monday, 17th March 1975, it would be unhelpful to give any estimate at this stage because of the large number of unquoted securities to be acquired.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he intends that the proposed British Shipbuilders shall be required to operate at a profit, taking one year with another, and providing for a commercial return on capital.

As my right hon. Friend made clear in his written statement of 17th March 1975—[Vol. 888, c. 1157]— he will set a financial objective for the future corporation. It is certainly intended that it will operate profitably.