§ Mr. Maples
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the latest position on the plans for the disposal of North East Shipbuilders Ltd; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Newton
British Shipbuilders received a number of bids for NESL by the deadline of 30 September. These are still being evaluated. Further additional information has also been submitted by some of the bidders, including a recent amendment to one of the bids. The Government are concerned to ensure that every avenue has been explored before a decision is taken. I have therefore asked John Lister to invite each of the bidders to submit any final amendments that they may wish to have considered by noon on Friday 28 October. I shall make a full statement to the House as soon as the evaluation is complete.