§ 11. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, when, and by whom, the fishery research ship "Sir William Hardy" was planned; when, and by whom, she was built; how much she cost to build; the precise nature of the defect which necessitated alterations to her and which caused delay in her commencing the research work for which she was built; how long that delay has been; how much the alterations will cost; and how much the delay has cost.
§ The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works (Mr. J. R. Bevins)
The research ship "Sir William Hardy" was planned between 1948 and 1951. The planning was done by the builders, Hall Russell and Co. Ltd., of Aberdeen, in co-operation with the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and the Admiralty. They were aided by an Advisory Committee which included trawler owners and representatives of other bodies.
She was built by Messrs. Hall Russell. The keel was laid on 6th July, 1954, and builder's trials were carried out on 30th March, 1955. It would be contrary to normal practice to disclose details of the contract but the final cost of the ship is expected to be in the neighbourhood of £¼ million.
During the trials it was found that insufficient air was entering the engine-room when the propulsive machinery was operating at normal power. There has been a six months' delay due to this. The 176 cost of the additions to the ventilation will be about £3,000. I am afraid it is impossible to assess the cost of the delay in the use of the vessel.
§ Mr. Hughes
Whilst not congratulating the Minister on that reply, may I ask if he realises that the misfortunes which have attended this promising—and what would have been beneficial—enterprise involve not only money but serious loss in research for the nation? What is he doing about promoting the research which this ship was designed to deal with?
§ Mr. Bevins
That is well realised. We are pressing on with these alterations, and hope to have the vessel ready in about two months' time.
§ 12. Mr. Hector Hughes
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Works, as representing the Lord President of the Council, what form of propulsion was specified in the original plans and specifications of the fishery research ship "Sir William Hardy," now in Aberdeen Harbour; why a change was ordered and by whom it was executed; why a change in the ventilation of the engine room was ordered and by whom it was executed; the estimated cost of this ship; her actual cost before the change; and what will be her ultimate cost of construction with alterations.
§ Mr. Bevins
When the specification was prepared for this ship, diesel-electric propulsion had been decided on. No change has been ordered. But a change in the ventilation of the engine room was ordered because—as I have informed the hon. and learned Gentleman—the ventilation was insufficient to keep the temperature low enough. This change was carried out by the builders, Hall Russell & Co. Ltd. As I have already explained, I am unable to give details of the contract.
§ Mr. Hughes
Is the Minister in a position to say whether, as is usual in such cases, there were any pilot schemes in connection with this ship before it was built? If so, should they not have prevented the losses which have taken place?
§ Mr. Bevins
In the first place it was proposed to build a small vessel, but a decision was taken later to build a larger 177 vessel more suited to the tasks which this trawler has to undertake. I do not think that my noble Friend can be criticized for innovating with diesel-electric propulsion. It is an innovation, and when people make innovations they are liable to make mistakes.
§ Mr. Hector Hughes
On a point of order. Owing to the unsatisfactory answer and the importance of this subject, I beg to give notice that I shall raise it again on the Adjournment at the first opportunity.