§ Mr. Merlyn Rees
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a further statement on Harland and Wolff.
§ Mr. Pym
As my predecessor told the hon. Member on 19th November—[Vol. 864, c. 343–4]—an urgent examination of Harland and Wolff's financial position and its capital investment programme has been undertaken with the aid of outside consultants. No significant change is planned as a result in the company's expansion programme since expenditure on major items is either fully committed or essential to the success of the programme.
Discussions with the board of the company about its financial position have not yet been completed, but I have agreed that the following statement may be included in the company's interim statement of account which is being made to the stockholders today:It was announced on 19th November 1973 that the Government had informed your company of its willingness in principle to provide further support. Since then discussions have taken place with the Government, as a result of which it is proposed that approximately £10 million of debt owed to the Government would be replaced by the issue to the Government of approximately £8 million non- 468W cumulative non-voting convertible preference shares, convertible into ordinary stock units. The Government would also provide guarantee facilities upon an amount of a further £10 million which would be available to the company as needed up to the end of 1976. Detailed proposals will be submitted to stockholders for approval at an extraordinary general meeting to be convened for the purpose as soon as practicable.