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Shipbuilding Industry

Volume 80: debated on Wednesday 12 June 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many British warship yards he estimates the existing domestic ordering requirements alone can support; and what estimate of domestic warship-building capacity and foreseeable domestic warship-building demand is available to him.

The number of warship yards necessary to meet domestic ordering requirements depends on various factors including present work force, availability of further labour, the availability of physical assets, the types of vessels ordered and, given the specialist capability of the yards, the distribution of orders between the yards. Therefore there can be no firm estimate of domestic warshipbuilding capacity. Domestic warshipbuilding demand depends on the Ministry of Defence's ordering programme, details of which are made available to the House from time to time.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimates he has for the size of the British merchant shipbuilding industry over the next 15 years.

My right hon. Friend has no such estimates. The future of the merchant shipbuilding industry in Britain depends primarily on the state of the international market and the degree to which our shipbuilders are competitive within that market.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what factors he takes into account when preparing estimates of the future size of the domestic warship building market.

The future size of the domestic warship building market will depend on the Ministry of Defence's ordering programme and the industry's success in winning warship export orders.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his policy towards attracting alternative employment to shipbuilding communities; and what specific examples of the results of that policy he can cite.

In addition to national schemes of advice and assistance operated by the Department of Trade and Industry firms in shipbuilding areas located within the assisted areas are eligible for regional aid, and the EC has designated a number of areas affected by shipbuilding closures in which funds are available to encourage alternative employment.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his policy towards financial subsidies to privatised British warship yards competing for types of work currently carried out in British merchant shipbuilding yards.

The policy towards financial subsidies for shipbuilding will be closely linked to the new regime for the shipbuilding intervention fund which has still to be approved by the European Commission.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information he has regarding, average wage rates in the shipbuilding industry for the United Kingdom and for major shipbuilding countries including Japan, South Korea, China and Brazil, respectively.

I have been asked to reply.Information about the wage rates of workers covered by the national shipbuilding and shiprepairers agreements in Great Britain is given in "Time Rates of Wages and Hours of Work", pages 39 to 41, published by the Department of Employment, a copy of which is available in the

Library. Information about the 1985 agreements has not yet been included in this publication, but the main details are given in the table.

Shipbuilding and Shiprepairers agreements 1985.
Agreement I* £Agreement II* £
(a)National Weekly Minimum Time Rates
Fully skilled classes who have
completed their apprenticeship84·2596·20
Semi-skilled classes74·3084·97
Unskilled classes66·9072·16
(b)Minimum Weekly Earnings Level†
Skilled classes125·75
Unskilled classes97·80
* I—British Shipbuilders, operative from 1 April 1985.
II — Shiprepairers and Shipbuilders Independent Association, operative from domestic settlement dates on or after 1 January 1985.
‡ For a normal week of 39 hours.
The corresponding figures for the other countries requested are not readily available. However, some indication of the level of wages in similar types of activity can be drawn from the information covering manufacture of transport equipment, a broader category which includes shipbuilding, which is given for countries including Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong in the International Labour Office's "Year Book of Labour Statistics" (table 17B), a copy of which is also in the Library.