Skip to main content

British Shipbuilders

Volume 87: debated on Wednesday 27 November 1985

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.


asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the present position regarding the proposed privatisation of British Shipbuilders' warship building yards.

British Shipbuilders has already sold three of its warship building yards—Yarrow Shipbuilders Ltd., Vosper Thornycroft (UK) Ltd. and Brooke Marine Ltd. Negotiations are continuing for the sale of the others—Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd. and its subsidiary Cammell Laird Ltd., Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Ltd., and Hall Russell Ltd.

The Minister will have seen the reply given yesterday by the Minister of State for Defence Procurement about the ordering programme for the type 23 frigates, and he will know with what dismay his answer was greeted on Tyneside. Will the Minister confirm that the Government's failure to honour their earlier commitments to Tyneside about the replacement of type 23 frigates at Swan Hunters has set back privatisation for that yard and, further, that the subsequent redundancy notices are being delayed until after the Tyne Bridge by-election?

The recent industrial relations in that yard will not have helped the hon. Gentleman in championing the cause of his constituents, which I know he is anxious to do. The order programme is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for Defence Procurement, who will no doubt note carefully what the hon. Gentleman has said this afternoon.

Will the Minister admit that any further delay in ordering the type 23 frigates not only puts his privatisation timetable in jeopardy, but puts at risk hundreds of jobs at Swan Hunter and in the north generally, which has already lost 219,000 jobs in the past six years? Will he come clean and answer the point put to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown)—that his failure to tell us about the jobs at risk at Swan Hunter in the north-east has less to do with concern about the future of the shipbuilding industry and more to do with his concern about the fate of the Conservative candidate in the forthcoming by-election?

I have no doubt that the candidate in the by-election is more than able to look after himself[Interruption]—sorry, herself—and that she will be able to meet that point. I repeat that this is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Minister, and will also be observed by the lady who is standing in the by-election.