9. Mr. Edward Taylor
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the order book of the shipbuilding industry.
Does my hon. Friend agree that this dramatic transformation in the shipbuilding scene reflects great credit on what the Government have done over the past two years? Second, as a good chunk of this work is represented by orders placed provisionally by Maritime Fruit Carriers, has my hon. Friend any news whether these important orders have been confirmed?
§ Mr. Emery
It is of particular interest that the order books stand at the record figure of about £1,000 million at the moment. Swan Hunter is negotiating contracts with the Maritime Fruit Carriers group for an initial order for 20 vessels, worth about £150 million. Negotiations are still continuing.
§ Mr. Heffer
Although the shipbuilding side shows encouraging signs, the picture is not the same in ship repairing, which is closely allied and is usually carried out in the same yards. Does the Minister recognise that there is a severe crisis in ship repairing, with a loss of orders and widespread unemployment developing? What do the Government intend to do about that side of it?
§ Mr. Wingfield Digby
These orders will take several years to complete. Is my hon. Friend satisfied that the cost escalation clauses are adequate?
§ Mr. Rankin
Does the Minister agree that Clydeside is now playing its full part in achieving this new and increasing output in shipbuilding?