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Shipbuilding

Volume 168: debated on Wednesday 28 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will ask the United Kingdom permanent representative in Brussels to seek clarification as to whether the guidance given by Sir Leon Brittan in his letter of 15 February to the hon. Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg) represents the considered view of the European Commission.

[holding answer 27 February 1990]: Sir Leon Brittan makes clear in his letter of 15 February that the views expressed do not represent the definitive position of the Commission. That could only be given on the basis of a specific proposal put forward by Her Majesty's Government. The letter did, however, provide a sufficiently clear indication of the Commission's thinking alongside which we could judge our own consideration of the merits or otherwise of the proposals concerned. In particular, Sir Leon Brittan has made clear that were we to notify now proposals predicated on the resumption of shipbuilding at NESL, that would cause the Commission to reconsider all aspects of the December 1988 notification, including its decision on the enterprise zone. The Government have always made it clear that that is not something we would be prepared to risk.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library any notes from officials arising from discussions between officials of his Department and officials of the European Commission concerning the future of NESL between 22 February 1988 and the present time.

[holding answer 27 February 1990]: No. Such notes are confidential. Contacts with the Commission on this matter were explained in a note placed in the Library on 24 July 1989 by my right hon. Friend the Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton); in a letter I wrote to the Chairman of the Trade and Industry Select Committee on 10 October 1989; in the evidence I gave to the Trade and Industry Committee on 18 October 1989; and in the statement I made to the House on 20 February 1990.

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will state the specific reasons why the bid by Mr. Nat Puri to acquire NESL in 1988 was rejected.

[holding answer 27 February 1990]: I refer to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) on 14 November 1988, Official Report, column 748.