§ 5.16 p.m.
§ Lord MELCHETT rose to move, That the draft Shipbuilding (Redundancy Payments Scheme) (Great Britain) Order 1978, laid before the House on 6th July, be approved. The noble Lord said: My Lords, with the permission of the House, I should like to speak to both these orders together. They are virtually identical in wording, and have exactly the same effect. They will establish, under powers provided by Sections 1 and 2 of the Shipbuilding (Redundancy Payments) Act 1978, a scheme for the making of 989 payments to certain classes of employees of British Shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff Limited and specified subsidiaries of either, who are made redundant or transferred to less well paid employment as a result of closure or contraction of the undertaking employing them.
§ Your Lordships have considered the background to these orders both during the debates on the Act under which they are made, and earlier this month when the House considered the Select Committee's report on the European Commission's proposals for the reorganisation of the Community shipbuilding industry. An outline of the scheme brought into operation by these orders was given by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Industry in another place on 7th February. The orders fill in the precise details of the scheme, and I am afraid that they are necessarily rather complicated. Because of this, explanatory pamphlets are being produced which will explain to those who may be affected what they can expect to receive under the scheme. Given the detail contained in the orders, I intend simply to cover the main points in them in addressing your Lordships' House this evening.
§ The orders will come into effect the day after they are made, but they are partially retroactive since the effective commencing date of the two-year period of eligibility for payment will be 1st July last year. In fact, some 2,000 employees who have already been made redundant since that date are expected to benefit under the scheme. The details of the scheme are set out in the schedules to the orders. Eligibility for payment depends among other things upon being aged between 19 and normal retiring age and having at least one year's service with a qualifying company engaged in shipbuilding, ship repair, slow speed diesel marine engine building or ancillary activities. There is also a provision intended to ensure as far as possible that the payments are made in compensation for redundancies which are the result of permanent contraction: we do not intend these payments to be made for short-term lay-offs. If, in a rare and exceptional case, a person is re-employed in shipbuilding after a relatively short time, the 990 orders provide for him to repay some of his benefit.
§ The level of the payments made to an individual redundant worker depends on age, length of service and pay. Payment will be partly in the form of a lump sum on redundancy and partly as income support payments for a period of up to two years afterwards. There are special provisions covering redundant workers who find other employment in that period. The central part of the scheme is, of course, concerned with redundancy payments, because the scope for redeployment in shipbuilding is very limited given the depressed market for ships. But we have made some provision for payments to workers undergoing retraining as an alternative to redundancy. There is also some provision for payments towards the additional travelling or removal expenses of workers who can be transferred rather than made redundant.
§ It is impossible to forecast the total cost of the scheme because we do not know how many people will benefit under it. The best estimate I can give is that, if the average age and length of service of those receiving benefit is the same as the average for the industry as a whole, as estimated by British Shipbuilders, and taking account of the latest assessment of current wage rates, then the cost per 1,000 persons receiving benefit is likely to be of the order of £1.725 million. This is higher than the previous estimate mainly because average wage rates have risen, not only because of pay awards made under Phase 3, but also because of awards made by the Central Arbitration Committee under the Fair Wages Resolution 1946 or the Employment Protection Act 1975. Also, the estimate of average pay at September 1977 has been slightly revised in the light of some new data.
§ My Lords, the Government believe that this scheme is needed, given the very difficult problems faced by the shipbuilding industry throughout the world. It follows from the Act recently passed by Parliament, and I hope your Lordships will welcome it. I beg to move.
§ Moved, That the draft Shipbuilding (Redundancy Payments Scheme) (Great Britain) Order 1978, laid before the House on 6th July, be approved.—(Lord Melchett.)991
§ 5.19 p.m.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, we are grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, for explaining the two orders, one relating to Great Britain and the other to Northern Ireland, and I agree with him that it would be convenient that they be taken together. They arise from the Bill, now enacted, which we examined in your Lordships' House earlier this Session. Some of us have been waiting to see what the schemes would contain, because Ministers in both Houses were unable to give much indication until an outline scheme appeared in reply to a Question for Written Answer in another place. The noble Lord confirmed one's impression upon comparing the two schemes that they were similar, if not identical. I should like to know whether there is any difference in the payments; whether it will mean that a worker doing exactly the same kind of work as, and with the same qualifications as, another worker might receive a larger sum under one of the schemes than he would under the other—a larger sum in either Northern Ireland or in Great Britain.
It is very appropriate that the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, should be introducing the schemes. He has been in the Northern Ireland Office for many months, and before that, when he was in the Department of Industry, he handled with great stamina the very long Bill we considered two years ago, which dealt with shipbuilding in particular.
I have been able to give the noble Lord some notice of my main points, and my second question is whether the schemes have been agreed by the trade unions concerned. We have been aware from a distance—not being party to the negotiations that have been going on—that the unions have not been prepared to accept the need for anything but voluntary redundancy. I wonder whether they have yet moved from that position, and whether they recognise, as, unfortunately, many of us have to, that there may well need to be more than voluntary redundancy, though one hopes that the reduction in the industry will be carried out as far as possible by normal wastage; that is to say, by way of people retiring voluntarily, or on grounds of age.
I must point out that the schemes do not cover the whole of the shipbuilding 992 and ship repairing industries. When the Bill was going through Parliament, we made clear that we thought it inequitable that 10 per cent. of the industries were not to be covered by the schemes. I refer here to the private sector. I do not propose to rehearse what was said then, but I wish to point out that the private sector exists as the result of a deliberate decision by the Government. When they introduced the Shipbuilding and Aircraft Industries Bill, which included nationalisation of the shipbuilding industry, they deliberately left out certain companies which they decided should remain as a private sector, rather in the same way as the nationalisation of the steel industry deliberately left a private sector which exists and continues today. We must once more reiterate that it is unfair that part of the industry, which through no fault of its own is in a different category as a result of the choice of the present Government, is not to benefit from the schemes. It means that some men in certain firms, doing exactly the same jobs as other workers in other firms, will not be eligible for the schemes simply because they are in the private sector; and neither they, nor their employers, had had any say in the matter.
We are grateful to the noble Lord for today giving us some information which has not previously been given to Parliament. I understand that the orders were considered in a Committee in another place this morning. The noble Lord has told us today that 2,000 men, who have already been made redundant, are likely to benefit from the scheme; and I think that this is the first time that this information has been forthcoming. The period of eligibility started in July of last year, and we are now already more than halfway through it. This brings me to my next question. Under the Act the period of eligibility is two years, and this is due to expire at the end of June 1979. Under the Act the Government can extend the period for another two years. As we are now more than halfway through the period which the orders cover, what is the latest view of the Government on this question? Are they contemplating the need to make the extension of another two years, which is possible under the parent Act?
The noble Lord drew attention to the complications in the formulae covering 993 the payments. Those noble Lords who have examined the orders in detail will have seen that the formulae include a considerable amount of algebra, and it will certainly not be easy for an individual becoming redundant to work out what his entitlement is likely to be. I do not believe that this matters greatly provided there is satisfaction that the scheme is fair taking into account, for example, the considerations of the time spent in the industries, moves to lesser paid work, or retraining. If it can be made quite clear that the schemes are fair, the complications of working out eligiblity will not be so important.
I should like to put to the noble Lord another question, which I believe may be helpful. There has been considerable working out of what the average payment is likely to be under the scheme. Can the noble Lord give an indication—I realise that it may be only an approximate figure—of what is the maximum for which an individual might qualify under the scheme? It would be helpful to know this; otherwise, the media may speculate and suggest that individuals could qualify for enormous sums when in fact that would not be so.
The noble Lord, Lord Melchett, attempted to give some information about the total cost of the scheme. The Government found it impossible to give this information when the Bill was before us. Today the noble Lord has improved upon the estimates which were made previously. He has given us the Government's estimate of the cost per 1,000 men made redundant, but we are still in ignorance both as to the Government's estimate of the number of men likely to be made redundant and the total cost of the scheme; I do not think the noble Lord told us anything about that today. If he can give an estimate of the total numbers, it will give an idea of the total cost. I appreciate that he has today given an estimate in relation to the cost per 1,000 men.
About three weeks ago the Secretary of State for Industry, in reply to a Question for Written Answer in another place, gave some very important information which he described as the financial discipline which he had issued to British Shipbuilders—the nationalised corporation. He had told British Shipbuilders 994 that it must not incur a loss of more than £45 million in the current financial year. That figure was the estimate given by British Shipbuilders itself of the loss it expected, and so I do not think it unfair for the figure to have been given to the corporation. However, if the total cost of the schemes is still completely unknown, how are the financial discipline and the loss of £45 million affected? Has some allowance been made in regard to the cost of the schemes?
In preparing the orders the Government's aim has clearly been to provide definitions about which there could be as little doubt as possible, and to a large extent they have been successful. However, [wish to draw attention to the definition of "qualifying activities", because this is vague, and yet it is one of the most important matters in the orders. It raises, for example, the whole question of diversification. Subsidiaries of British Shipbuilders may in the future be given work unconnected with shipbuilding or ship repairing, and it is not at all clear how that would affect men who are made redundant, because the subsidiaries employing them would not then be mainly occupied with shipbuilding and ship repairing. I should like some assurance that men in such a company would not fare worse under these schemes than their colleagues in another subsidiary which was not being diversified.
Here I would draw attention to a particular case, because the noble Lord will know that British Shipbuilders have announced recently that one of their companies, Barclay Curie, a marine diesel engine builder, is to become a subsidiary of the Vickers Shipbuilding Group. The new relationship, to use the words of their statement, is:To increase general engineering productive capacity, permitting additional work to be undertaken in both the defence and commercial equipment fields at each works. Moreover, when engineering concerns have in the past concentrated on the manufacture of marine engines and components, the current lack of new orders can be countered by turning to a wider range of highly-specialised engineering products".If the diversification contemplated in that statement reaches the point where the company is not mainly engaged in activities relating to the shipbuilding industry, and if men who had worked in the firm before diversification are made redundant, will they be eligible for redundancy payments 995 under the scheme although the company is no longer engaged in a qualifying activity? That is another side of the same question.
Lastly, I come to the relationship with the EEC, and the views of the Commission. This came up in the debate that we had only a few days ago, on 10th July, on the report of your Lordships' Select Committee on Europe on the shipbuilding industry. It is clear that the Government have been discussing with the Commission whether the Commission accepts some of the United Kingdom schemes to help the industry. I think it is clear—and the Government confirmed it at the time—that the setting up of the intervention fund last year and the amount of money that was put into it was approved by the Commission. The Government have announced a further sum to be added to the fund for this year, but it is still not clear whether that is a matter which is still at issue with the Commission or whether the Commission have approved that, too. Then there are these schemes; and I should like to know whether the Commission have approved them as well, as further financial help for the industry. As there have been reports in the Press that the Government are still not in full agreement with the Commission on help for the industry, I would end by asking this: Are there any further proposals which the Government have put to the industry which are still a matter of argument with the Commission?
§ 5.33 p.m.
§ Viscount SIMON
My Lords, I, too, should like to thank the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, for explaining these two orders, which, as he rightly says, are really identical except that one relates to British Shipbuilders and the other to the shipbuilders in Northern Ireland. I thought, if I may say so, that there was one aspect missing from his explanation—an aspect which perhaps led the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, astray. Because my recollection is that the Act under which these orders are made provided that in fact the Government would underwrite the payments under the orders; so that, although the orders in form provide for payments by the employers—that is, British Shipbuilders or the Northern Ireland employers—the amount is in fact paid by the Government because they have underwritten it. I think that probably 996 answers the question of the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, perhaps I can just confirm that the noble Viscount is quite right; that is the answer to the noble Lord's question.
§ Viscount SIMON
My Lords, I thought it as well to remind ourselves that what we are talking about is something which is paid by the general body of taxpayers. Apart from that, I really have only two minor points, and I apologise to the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, that I did not find time to communicate them to him. I am afraid I saw these orders to study only a short time ago, so if he cannot reply to my points I shall well understand. My first question arises out of a paragraph on page 2. It is in Article 1(1), and it is in the fourth paragraph, defining "current earnings". It there says:'current earnings' … means the average amount of … weekly earnings in employment or as a self-employed person …But since, in order to qualify, the employee has to have been employed by the company for two years, I do not understand how any earnings as a self-employed person can arise. I was wondering whether, if not now then perhaps later, the noble Lord could tell me how self-employed persons got into this particular order.
The other point, I am afraid, is an even more esoteric one. When we turn to pages 4 and 5, where they work out what the lump sum payments will be, we find a very complicated piece of calculation. If we turn first to Article 3(2), which refers to an abatement—and this, I think, will illustrate my difficulty—we find that it says:The abatement … is the amount by which the aggregate of the employee's age amount, the amount equal to twice his adjusted previous earnings and the amount of any payments he is entitled to under … the Redundancy Payments Act"—those three all added together—exceeds the product of two years' earnings. But what happens if it does not exceed the product of two years' earnings? To a mathematician, if the result is a minus quantity it would then be added, instead of being subtracted, as the abatement. I do not think that is what is intended, and I think the wording would have been happier if it had said,the amount (if any) by which it exceeds997 this or that. I leave those two points with the noble Lord, because I do not expect him to answer them today.
§ 5.37 p.m.
My Lords, I should like to say a very few words on these two orders, and I shall be as brief as possible. When, the other day, we debated shipbuilding generally, the enormous imbalance in shipbuilding capacity worldwide was quite apparent; but at the end of the debate it was very obscure what practical steps any of the member countries could take. I therefore welcome these orders, because they show that the Government have taken a lead in introducing practical steps to help to mitigate the problem. The intervention fund, of course, was the first step they took in this direction, and this is the second one; and, like my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy, I welcome the two orders.
There are just three points I should like to make on the orders themselves. The first has been mentioned, both by the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, and by my noble friend, and it concerns the complexity of the orders. I was very glad indeed to hear the noble Lord say that the Government were preparing explanatory pamphlets. I think this is much more important than it may appear to be on the surface. Naturally, one wants as few people as possible to be redundant within the terms of increased efficiency; but you cannot tell how many people are going to be made redundant, and it is really important that all who might be liable to redundancy should have the opportunity of seeing this pamphlet and of knowing where they stand. In industry these days we hear a great deal about good communications. I think this is an example, a very important example, of good communications. I hope the pamphlet to which the noble Lord referred will be disseminated as widely as possible throughout the industry. That is tremendously important, because these orders are complex. I have read them several times myself, and there are two questions that I am now coming to which show that I am not absolutely clear on them.
The first question I want to ask deals with Article 5. Article 5 deals with the 998 case of an employee who has been made redundant, who has received financial benefit under the order and who is then, perhaps, in due course, offered back by his old firm the same job that he was doing when he was made redundant. The Article says that "he shall be liable to repay" a certain proportion of the money. I do not know the significance of the words "liable to repay". It does not say "he shall repay"; it says "liable to repay". I hope the noble Lord will deal with that, because it seems to me that if he has to repay the money it may very well prohibit him, he having spent the money, from taking back his old job if it is offered to him. This could be harmful both to the industry and to the man. I hope that something will be said on that.
The other question that I wanted to raise is on Article 7. This deals with retraining. When somebody has been made redundant and undertakes retraining for some other skill, he can obtain certain periodic financial help. It may be rather a foolish question; but I want to he quite sure that if the other job is in the same company from which he was made redundant but in a different division, are the financial helps that he could get still available; or does he have to go to another company altogether? I suspect that they may be able to be paid to him, but let me give an example. A steelworker, because there are too many steelworkers, is made redundant. But it might happen, due to a change of demand, that the outfitting trades were short. Therefore, the man, in his own company, is retrained for an outfitting job. Can he still get financial help?
Those are the only questions that I want to ask. I am sorry that I did not give the noble Lord notice of the questions, but they are not very difficult ones and I hope that he will be able to answer them. Subject to that, I welcome the two orders.
My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Melchett, will know that the Statutory Instruments Committee interviewed the civil servants who drew up this draft. I hope that he has had the opportunity of reading the report. I am not going over the various questions we asked except for one on which we did not seem to get a clear answer. This is Question No. 2A, on page 4, the question 999 of age. It says that the relevant age is 19. We wondered why 19 and not 18; which I understand is now the age of consent. When we asked the question, we were told that it varied for different industries. I should like to know whether the noble Lord can give any information on why the basic ages in Question 2A have been put into the Bill.
I note that the Northern Ireland order says it is to be laid before Parliament—and it gives the date. But there is no date on the order for Great Britain. Are they both going to be brought in at the same time or not?
§ 5.44 p.m.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, I am grateful to all who have spoken for their welcome to the orders. I shall do my best to answer the various points that have been raised. I will start with what seems to me to be a neat answer to one of the points raised by the noble Viscount, Lord Simon, about the excess amount and what would happen if there was not an excess amount. I am advised that if the excess amount is zero, it is zero and not negative; and, therefore, the problems which the noble Viscount foresaw in mathematical terms do not arise. While dealing with that perhaps I may do my best to answer another point that the noble Viscount raised about the definition of "current earnings" and the inclusion under that definition of somebody who is self-employed. As I understand it, this part of the order is concerned with what people earn after they have been made redundant rather than with what they earn before they have been made redundant. By then, the person, by definition, will have ceased to be an employee of British Shipbuilders and therefore might be in self-employment I hope that that answers the noble Viscount's point satisfactorily.
Turning now to a point which was made by the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, he first went over ground on which I think it is fair to say this House and Parliament spent some time, about the inclusion or exclusion of private sector companies. I think that the noble Lord will forgive me if I do not traverse that ground myself again, and simply say that it is clear that these orders, as they are made under the provisions of the Act, 1000 cannot include things which are not included in the Act itself. Parliament decided in the end that the Act should include only the public sector companies.
The noble Lord also asked about whether there would be any difference in payment between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Of course, the way the schemes are applied will be exactly the same. The only difference that will arise will occur if there are differences in length of service on average between those made redundant in Northern Ireland and those in Great Britain. That is a possibility. But, as the noble Lord knows, we will not know this until the orders are in operation and we can see what happens. The noble Lord asked also about the cost of the Scheme. He will know that, while I have been able to give him a more accurate and more up-to-date figure of the cost per thousand of those eligible under the scheme who are made redundant, the number of redundancies is quite impossible to foretell.
If I could give the noble Lord the benefit of my own brief experience in this, I have been staggered, since leaving the Department of Industry and going to Northern Ireland, at the success we have had, in an appallingly difficult world market, in attracting orders to Harland and Wolff, which is a specialist shipyard not necessarily well placed to benefit from some of the orders which British shipbuilders (and I am talking about the Polish orders) have been able to attract. Nevertheless, I think—and I take no credit for it for it was my right honourable friends who were responsible for this area of activity in Northern Ireland—that we have done exceptionally well and have done much better than could have been foreseen even two years ago. I think that that underlines the impossibility of making any estimate of the number of people who are likely to be affected by the scheme and, therefore, of what the total cost will be.
The noble Viscount, Lord Rochdale—and I am grateful for his welcome—mentioned the pamphlet. I would agree with him about the importance of this. From my personal experience of the questions that I have been asked this afternoon, a simple explanation is clearly badly needed for those introducing the orders, let alone those who will be 1001 affected by them. I agree with what the noble Viscount said about the importance of ensuring that all those concerned have this information made available to them in simple form. Those who are likely to be affected by the scheme are represented by trade unions and the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, asked about their attitude to the scheme and said that negotiations had been going on for some time. That is the case. The Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions have consistently made plain their distate for redundancies, as such, and I do not think that that would surprise noble Lords on any side of the House. They agreed however to involve themselves fully with British Shipbuilders and Harland and Wolff in negotiating the outline of the scheme, and the detailed scheme now set out in the orders is based on proposals made jointly to the Government as a result of discussions between British Shipbuilders and the CSEU. Some features of the scheme, for example, the limitation of benefits to a maximum of two years of previous earnings—and I was going to come to that later—and other features, for example, the tapering down of lump sum payments for older workers which the Government thought it right to introduce, modified the agreed proposals which came from British Shipbuilders and the CSEU. It is fair to say that not all these meet with CSEU's full approval; nevertheless, although the scheme is not in all respects what they would like, I have no reason to suppose they do not recognise the scheme is fair to all those concerned; certainly it is as fair as is possible in what is an already complicated situation.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell, also asked about the possibility of extending the scheme. As he pointed out, the Act would empower my right honourable friend the Secretary of State to make orders varying the terms of the scheme and, in particular, the possibility of extending it for another two years. Given the current very gloomy outlook for shipbuilding demand, I am afraid that we may need to look for such an extension. However, the details of the scheme were the product of extensive consultation and the Government have no plans for altering it. Some amendment may prove desirable in due course, as a result of experience; 1002 but the Government hope that that will not be the case. Should there be any need for alteration, including extension, Parliament will have to be consulted because any alteration will be made by order subject to the Affirmative Resolution, as are these two orders that we are discussing this afternoon.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, also asked about the attitude of the EEC Commission to the scheme and, in particular, to the proposed second tranche of the intervention fund. If I am right, this is relevant to something which the noble Viscount, Lord Rochdale, said about the international problems which the shipbuilding industry is facing and the general welcome to anyone who is taking the steps which the Government are taking in these orders. Indeed, the Commission have been kept in touch with the development of the Government's plans for redundancy payments schemes and have raised no objection to them. As I said, the scheme is consistent with the Commission's view that rationalisation of the industry in the Community is essential because of the very low demand for ships.
So far as the second tranche of the shipbuilding intervention fund is concerned, as I think the noble Lord himself said negotiations are still continuing with the Commission. The Government have no reason to think that the outcome will be other than satisfactory. The noble Baroness, Lady Vickers, asked about the age at which people are eligible. As I understand it and as the noble Baroness will know, for anybody to be eligible under the scheme they must have completed one year's service in the industry. In effect the age of 18 which the noble Baroness wanted is the one which has been chosen: but everybody must have done one year's service after that, so the age at which they are eligible for the scheme is 19. If I have understood the point correctly, we are at one with the noble Baroness and people will come into the scheme at 18 but will be eligible for payments once they have been in the industry for a year—in other words, when they are 19. I hope that answers the question.
The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, made a helpful suggestion, as he himself suggested it might be, that it would be useful to place on record the fact that there is an upper limit to the scheme. There is 1003 no question of people being given very large sums of money as a result of this. The upper limit is in fact £10,400. That is the aggregate of the payments any person may receive under this scheme and the Redundancy Payments Act 1965 taken together. I am grateful to the noble Lord for making the suggestion that we should put that on the record.
The noble Viscount, Lord Rochdale, asked about Article 5 and the use of the phrase "liable to pay". I am advised that on re-employment the amount of the refund is to be a debt due to British Shipbuilders. Payment will he enforceable as with ordinary debts. That is the effect of the phrase "liable to pay". I hope that meets the noble Viscount's point.
My Lords, can the noble Lord say anything about the dates? Are they both coming into operation on the same day?
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, so far as I know, that is the case. If I am wrong, perhaps the noble Baroness will allow me to write to her. Certainly everything I have heard from the Northern Ireland end, where I have been most concerned, shows that the two schemes are identical, and this has been something which those working in Harland and Wolff have been concerned about. The dates for the coming into operation of the two schemes are the same—in effect, the operative date already started earlier this year, as the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, pointed out.
Lord CAMPBELL of CROY
My Lords, I should like to thank the noble Lord for replying to the large number of questions which I raised. There is one matter he did not refer to—and I quite understand he may need notice. That is concerning diversification and the effect on men who may be moved into other work not connected with shipbuilding or ship repairing. There is also the question of the costs of redundancies. The noble Viscount, Lord Simon, answered part of the question because he reminded us that payments from these schemes were coming from the taxpayer: but the number of redundancies—which the noble Lord indicated is still a question mark—will affect employers, too, because my under- 1004 standing is that in any case they will have to pay the statutory employers' payments under the redundancy payments legislation. So the numbers of thousands of men who may become redundant will have an effect, not just on the monies under this scheme but on the monies that will have to be produced by British Shipbuilders. I was asking whether that had been taken into account in setting the financial discipline for British Shipbuilders for the current financial year. I recognise that this may not be a question to which the noble Lord can give an off-the-cuff answer.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, knowing the care with which my former Department organises these matters, I have absolutely no doubt that it has taken this into account. If I am wrong, I hope the noble Lord will allow me to write to him to put the matter straight. The noble Lord's intervention has given me the opportunity to receive some advice about the question of diversification. If a qualifying company diversifies and still remains a qualifying company, an employee who has been transferred and then is made redundant would still he eligible under the scheme notwithstanding the transfer. I hope that answer the point which the noble Lord raised. May I thank all those who asked me questions for putting them clearly enough to enable me to answer at least some of them. If there are any I have not answered, I will write to noble Lords.
My Lords, if the noble Lord cannot answer the other question on retraining perhaps he will write to me.
§ Lord MELCHETT
My Lords, I will undertake to write to the noble Viscount. It has been a great pleasure for me to return to the subject of shipbuilding after a long absence. I hope that the fact that this scheme is unlikely to be nearly as widely used as many people thought at the time when we were debating the Bill—now the Act—which nationalised the Shipbuilding industry, to which the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Croy, referred, will convince any remaining sceptics in your Lordships' House that the Act was a thoroughly worthwhile measure, well worth putting on the Statute Book.
§ On Question, Motion agreed to.