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Orders of the Day — European Community (Shipbuilding)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 4th July 1975.

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Photo of Mr Norman Buchan Mr Norman Buchan , Renfrewshire West 12:00 am, 4th July 1975

Whatever the hon. Gentleman's analysis of the situation, that is no argument for not having the best possible form of investment for our industry. The kind of investment that we need is that which will produce efficiency within our yards. It is not a question of investment leading only to enlargement. There is a big difference between the two forms of investment. I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman is making, but I am talking in terms of efficiency, which is a different matter.

In this case we are in danger of falling foul of the directive. In Page 2 of the directive Commissioner Spinelli says: It also wishes to stress that the information on decisions to grant aid for shipbuilding referred to in Article 2 and the information on investment aid mentioned in Article 4 will be examined periodically by the Commission in collaboration with experts from the Member States so that joint guidelines for the sector in question can be drawn up. Article 4 relates to investment. If there is a need for large-scale investment we have to notify that investment programme in advance to the EEC. Members of the EEC can decide whether they wish to draw up common guidelines. It there are common guidelines they will, by their very definition, relate to the other Eight. Therefore, our decision to go ahead with nationalisation is immediately put into question. The two matters are linked in that way.

Hence the reason for anxiety about the directive and our reason for saying that we decline to approve or take note of the directive till we get certain matters clarified. We want clarification of the things that we see as necessary for the future survival of the British shipbuilding industry. Secondly, the guidelines that our Minister takes to Brussels should be those approved by the House and not those merely taken note of by the House.