Well, after all the angst they caused in the1980s when they starved Robbs and other yards of orders after nationalising them, it would appear that this government quango, which is, not surprisingly, my least favourite of all time, is to go. (I suspect that somewhere out there, there must be people who have favourite quangos – but I am guessing that they mostly wear anoraks and indulge in hobbies which most of us would consider unedifying, tedious and solitary!)
This diagram from Wikipedia shows just how much they changed the face of the industry, and, from my point of view, the destruction they wreaked. Unfortunately Robb’s, and quite possibly some other yards as I have not checked it out in detail, are missing and the editor no longer edits on Wikipedia so for now it can’t be corrected. However, it makes my point more than adequately!
Here is the Hansard entry about the aforementioned closure.
British Shipbuilders Corporation Questions Asked by Lord Dixon
To ask Her Majesty’s Government who are the members of the British Shipbuilders Corporation. [HL1909]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how members of the British Shipbuilders Corporation were appointed.[HL1910]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many times the members of the British Shipbuilders Corporation have met since 1998.[HL1911]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government how much the British Shipbuilders Corporation has cost. [HL1912]
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what the British Shipbuilders Corporation has achieved since it was set up.[HL1913]
27 Sep 2010 : Column WA433 Lord Shutt of Greetland:
The British Shipbuilders Corporation (BSC) has no active trading operations after the sale of its various shipbuilding assets in the 1980s and 1990s. Its primary purpose is dealing with health claims from former BSC shipyard workers, suffering from mainly asbestos-related diseases. The corporation’s solicitors, Eversheds LLP, manage the ongoing claims. Day-to-day oversight of the work is undertaken by officials in the Coal Liabilities Unit (CLU) in the Department of Energy and Climate Change under arrangements agreed with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). This is on the basis of the extensive experience of the CLU in managing health-related compensation claims.
Civil servants act as the board directors of the corporation (as part of their normal duties and they receive no separate remuneration for this work). The corporation has no employees. Information on the number of meetings the board has had since 1998 is not readily available, but the board currently meets at least twice a year.
The directors of the corporation are required to prepare an annual report and accounts. The corporation’s directors and financial position are fully stated in its annual report and accounts for 2009-10, which was laid before Parliament on 20 July 2010. Details for previous years’ activity are set out in the corporation’s earlier annual reports and accounts, which have also been deposited in the House Libraries.
With regards to the number of times the members of the British Shipbuilders Corporation have met since 1998, we do not have this information readily to hand. We are currently investigating. My noble friend Lady Wilcox will write to the noble Lord, and a copy of her letter will be placed in the Library of the House.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills announced on 19 July 2010 that the British Shipbuilders Corporation will be abolished next year-as part of the process to cut the number of BIS quangos. The health-related liabilities of the corporation will be transferred to BIS, which will continue to meet them consistently in line with the relevant legal obligations.
I doubt anyone will be sad to see them go – and am glad to see that at least the one useful function, of helping (well one can hope) people who served in yards in the times before asbestosis was recognised far less that precautions were taken to prevent it, are still to be able to seek recompense for their consequential suffering.
Would that we could turn the clock back for those people and undo the harm to them – my own mother had a sheet of asbestos in the kitchen which we used to put hot pots on, and which she put over the chip pan when my brother accidentally lit the wrong burner and set it alight – we simply didn’t know and it must have seemed such a useful material for shipbuilding.
Anyway, I, for one, will be standing on the pier cheering as the SS British Shipbuilders sinks beneath the waves!
Acknowledgement: My thanks to David for the cartoon, you can see more of his political cartoons on his blog at www.theoligarchkings.wordpress.com
Copyright: Ruth Patterson 2010