asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the latest forecast cost to completion of the AOR1 vessel and how this compares with Harland and Wolff's original bid; what is the latest profit forecast for the contract and how this compares with the forecast assumed at the time it was awarded; and if he will make a statement.
I regret that I cannot provide details of either the original projections of cost and profit in respect of the AOR veseel or latest projections, as this is commercially confidential information.
That answer will not come as much comfort to the people of Tyneside, and I am sure that the Minister understands why. Two thousand shipyard workers on Tyneside lost their jobs because the Government chose to award the contract to Harland and Wolff, with an assurance that there was to be no public subsidy. Can the Minister repeat that assurance and, in particular, can he assure us that the Northern Ireland Office and the Government will hot pay the interest on bringing the profits forward on AOR1, but that that interest will be paid from Harland and Wolff's own resources?
I appreciate the hon. Gentleman's interest and the support for private enterprise reflected in his remarks. The commercially based assumptions made by Harland and Wolff in arriving at the tender price were reviewed by independent consultants, who confirmed that the tender was unsubsidised and comprehensively costed. The hon. Gentleman's repetition of his question adds no merit to it.