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Robb Caledon Shipyard, Dundee

Volume 12: debated on Wednesday 11 November 1981

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12.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the outcome of the discussions in which his Department has been involved as to the future development of the site of the Robb Caledon shipyard, Dundee.

My Department is not a party to the negotiations about the future of the Robb Caledon site. But I understand that the Dundee port authority has responded to Kestrel Marine's bid to take over the yard with proposals designed to meet Kestrel's demand for additional space while preserving the potential for future ports development and that negotiations are continuing.

I have made it clear that my Department will be prepared to consider the provision of financial support for any viable proposition that might emerge involving investment by Kestrel Marine. The Scottish Development Agency stands ready to assist also.

I appreciate that the negotiations between Kestrel and the Dundee port authority are in progress today. I hope that a reasonable solution will be reached. Is the Minister prepared to advise his nominees on the Dundee port authority that if the negotiations fail the authority should give suitable recognition to the industrial needs of the city of Dundee in its aim of enhancing the port and the shipping industry?

I have no reason to suspect that the authority is not giving suitable priority to the industrial problems of Dundee. It is doing everything in its power to reach with Kestrel an agreement that will benefit the city generally and provide a solution to the present questions and negotiations.

Does the Minister accept that if the responsible attitude initially adopted by the port authority becomes irresponsible—as it is daily becoming—in terms of an argument over a piece of land, when 140 jobs at Robb Caledon are threatened, he has power to instruct his nominees on the authority to advise it to make the land available?

As the hon. Member for Dundee, East (Mr. Wilson) said, negotiations are taking place today. I understand that fresh proposals have been made and are being considered by the parties responsible. I do not believe that any statement in the House would be helpful at this stage.

I do not wish in any way to make the current negotiations difficult——

Does my hon. Friend agree that the Dundee port authority has a wider responsibility than just the Robb Caledon project, and that, while supporting the efforts of Robb Caledon to find new job opportunities for its employees, it is important for it constantly to bear in mind its wider responsibilities?