The discussions between Cunard and the Council of Industrial Design, which I mentioned in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Meriden (Mr. Rowland) on 4th March, are continuing. The company is well aware of the Government's concern that the arrangements for supervising the interior design of the new ship shall be such as to ensure that the result will be of the highest possible standard. With this object in view, my right hon. Friend will keep in the closest touch with the company and the Council.
Is my hon. Friend aware that the Cunard Company is receiving something over £17 million of public money and that many of the decisions being taken on the interior design are being made by a person with no obvious qualifications other than that she happens to be the wife of the Chairman of the Cunard Company? [HON. MEMBERS: "Cheap."] Will my hon. Friend make sure that when such large sums of public money are spent proper value is received?
The Cunard Company knows the importance which I attach to the standard of industrial design in a ship of this kind and of its taking advantage of the wide range of fittings and equipment of modern design now produced in Britain.
Will my hon. Friend bear in mind that for nearly a hundred years the Cunard Company has launched ships ahead of any other shipbuilders in the world, and there is no doubt about it that when the new Queen is launched she will be the most modern, up-to-date and best finished ship in the world?
Are not these mean personal attacks against people who cannot hit back in very bad taste, and do they not lower the dignity of the House, and of the so-called hon. Member?
Yes, but I ought to advise the House that under the terms of the loan to Cunard we have no power to insist on any particular interior design or on the employment of any particular designer.