HC Deb 03 May 1989 vol 152 cc175-6
13. Dr. Godman

To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has on the number of vessels which Caledonian MacBrayne expects to order over the next five years.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

Caledonian MacBrayne's corporate plan over the next five years includes proposals to replace two major vessels and six minor vessels. All these proposals for new ships will need to be subject to a detailed economic appraisal and review in the light of Caledonian MacBrayne's requirements before any order can be approved.

Dr. Godman

Given that in the light of the Transport (Scotland) Bill the Secretary of State might soon be given the sobriquet of Mr. CalMac, will the right hon. and learned Gentleman advance one of the contracts and give it to Fergusons of Port Glasgow in order to ease the parlous circumstances of that yard?

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton


Dr. Godman

One moment; I have waited a long time for this question. May I point out to the Minister that bids for that yard were submitted to British Shipbuilders over a month ago? Since then we have heard nothing. The uncertainty is creating anxiety. It is a disgraceful state of affairs. When will the Secretary of State for Scotland show some concern for the people of the lower Clyde? [Interruption.] Be quiet, silly old fool.

Hon. Members


Mr. Speaker

Order. I did not hear anything out of order. Let us get on with it.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

To order an earlier than planned replacement of a CalMac ferry would be more costly, and orders cannot be directed to particular yards. I assure the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) that any yard capable of building a CalMac ferry will be given the opportunity to tender when CalMac seeks to place orders. The hon. Gentleman's second question is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. British Shipbuilders has received several bids for the yard which are still being evaluated. My hon. Friend the Minister of State is keeping in close touch with the matter.

Sir Charles Morrison

In the interests of the comfort of the passengers travelling on CalMac ships, will my hon. Friend ensure that the ships are built to take into account the fact that the weather can be rough on the west coast of Scotland? None of CalMac's present steamers seem to take account of the fact that it is often rough.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton

My hon. Friend speaks from personal experience of countless voyages to Isla. At Christmas I went on a CalMac ferry which was enormously impressive and the highest standard of service was being given.