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Aircraft And Shipbuilding

Volume 927: debated on Monday 7 March 1977

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asked the Secretary of State for Industry what companies in the aircraft and shipbuilding and repairing sectors he expects to be excluded from the provisions of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Act following the Examiners' decision of 17th February.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his policy towards the nationalisation of the aircraft and shipbuilding industries, in the light of the decision by the Examiners that the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill is hybrid; and if he will make a statement.

Will the right hon. Gentleman explain clearly why the list of companies to be cut out, the ship repair companies, does not include the company whose ship repair division accounts for 15 per cent. of the total United Kingdom capacity—Vosper Thornycroft?

Our agreement with the Opposition, through the usual channels, was that the Bill should proceed to Royal Assent in its present form apart from the deletion of the 12 listed ship repairing companies. Vosper Thornycroft's ship repairing activity, as it stressed in its own publicity material, is closely integrated with its shipbuilding activity. It is a division of the listed shipbuilding company and not a separate company.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that I visited Vosper Thornycroft ship repairers on Friday and that in the light of the new circumstances the men there are confused and angry with both the company and the Government at their possible exclusion from the list? Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate that the incorporation of the ship repairing activities at Vosper's in a massive nationalised shipbuilding company is wholly illogical? Will he consider the proposition not in a doctrinal way but in the best interests of the men who work there and of the industry, bearing in mind that fragmenting off one company seems wholly illogical?

I was specific when I made my statement on the Bill on 2nd March. The agreement that we have reached, which I hope can now proceed, to get the Bill to the statute book as quickly as possible excludes only the 12 listed ship repairing companies. In those circumstances, it would be impractical and a denial of that arrangement if we excluded Vosper Thornycroft's ship repairing activities.