Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1977

Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1977

Infobox UK Legislation
short_title=Aircraft and Shipbuilding Act 1977
parliament=Parliament of the United Kingdom
long_title=An Act to provide for the establishment of two bodies corporate to be called British Aerospace and British Shipbuilders, and to make provision with respect to their functions; to provide for the vesting in British Aerospace of the securities of certain companies engaged in manufacturing aircraft and guided weapons and the vesting in British Shipbuilders of the securities of certain companies engaged in shipbuilding and allied industries; to make provision for the vesting in those companies of certain property, rights and liabilities; to provide for payments to British Aerospace and its wholly owned subsidiaries, for the purpose of promoting the design, development and production of civil aircraft; and for connnected purposes.
statute_book_chapter=1977 c. 3
introduced_by=Secretary of State for Industry Tony Benn 30 April 1975 [ cite news | work=The Times | date=1 May 1975 | page=19, col D | title=Benn move to beat Shipyard Bill delay | first=Peter | last=Hill ]
territorial_extent=England and Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland
royal_assent=17 March 1977
commencement=17 March 1977
amendments=British Aerospace Act 1980
The Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1977 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom that nationalised large parts of the UK aerospace and shipbuilding industries and established two corporations, British Aerospace and British Shipbuilders (s.1).

Nationalisation of the two industries had been a manifesto commitment of the Labour Party in the United Kingdom general election, February 1974. It met immediate opposition from the industries, including from Labour politician and Vickers Chairman Lord Robens [Tweedale, G. (2008) " [ Robens, Alfred, Baron Robens of Woldingham (1910–1999)] ", "Oxford Dictionary of National Biography", Oxford University Press, online edn, accessed 26 March 2008]

The nationalisation was announced in July 1974 but the compensation terms were not announced until March 1975.Lauterpacht (1987) "p."440] The Bill had its first reading on 30 April 1975 but ran out of parliamentary time in that session. [Lauterpacht (1987) "p."450] Subsequent Bills had a stormy passage through parliament. Ship repairing was originally included in its scope but removed because of the findings of examiners that the Bill was hybrid. The Bill was rejected by the House of Lords on three separate occasions. It was possible that the provisions of the Parliament Acts could have been employed to enact it, but the legislation was approved following concessions by the Government, including deletion of the 12 ship repairing companies.Fact|date=March 2008

List of assets subsumed by British Aerospace

The assets of the following companies vested in British Aerospace on 29 April 1977 (ss.19(1) and 56(1)/ Sch.1): [SI 1977/539, art.2]
*British Aircraft Corporation
*Hawker Siddeley Aviation
*Hawker Siddeley Dynamics
*Scottish Aviation

List of assets subsumed by British Shipbuilders

The assets of the following companies vested in British Shipbuilders on 1 September 1977 (ss.19(1) and 56(1)/ Sch.2): [SI 1977/540, art.2]
* Ailsa Shipbuilding Company, Troon (acquired in 1978, merged with Ferguson Shipbuilders in 1981 to form Ferguson-Ailsa)
* Appledore Shipbuilders, Appledore
* Austin & Pickersgill, Sunderland
* Brooke Marine, Lowestoft
* Cammell Laird Shipbuilders, Birkenhead
* Clelands Shipbuilding Company, Wallsend
* Ferguson Shipbuilders, Port Glasgow (merged with Ailsa in 1981 to form Ferguson-Ailsa)
* Goole Shipbuilding & Repairing Company, Goole
* Govan Shipbuilders, Govan
* Hall, Russell & Company, Aberdeen
* Robb Caledon Shipbuilders, (comprising Henry Robb, Leith and Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company, Dundee)
* Scott Lithgow, Greenock (comprising Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Company & Lithgows)
* Smiths Dock Company, Middlesbrough
* Sunderland Shipbuilders, Sunderland (incorporating William Doxford & Sons, Pallion)
* Swan Hunter Shipbuilders Limited , Wallsend (later renamed Swan Hunter) - also incorporating John Redhead and Sons, South Shields and Wallsend Slipway and Engineering Company, Wallsend
* Vickers Limited Shipbuilding Group, Barrow in Furness (renamed Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited - VSEL)
* Vosper Thornycroft, Woolston and Portsmouth
* Yarrow Shipbuilders (YSL), Scotstoun
* Barclay Curle and Company, Whiteinch
* George Clark & NEM, Sunderland
* Hawthorn Leslie and Company, Hebburn
* John G. Kincaid & Company, Greenock

Note: Harland and Wolff, Belfast was state-owned but did not form part of British Shipbuilders.


Section 35 of the Act provided for compensation to the original owners. Compensation was to be by government bonds against a valuation of the shares over a relevant period of 6 months up to the Labour Party's election on 28 February 1974. For companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, this was the average quoted price over the relevant period. For non-listed shares, the government would negotiate with a shareholders' representative to establish an hypothetical market valuation. If no agreement was reached, the shareholders had recourse to arbitration (ss.36-41). However, section 39 controversially included a provision to make deductions from this base value if a company had dissipated its assets by declaring dividends in anticipation of nationalisation, or by other means. [ cite news | work=The Times | date=2 May 1975 | page=19, col A | title=Compensation fight likely as Bill sets target for ship and aircraft takeover | first=Peter | last=Hill ]

Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Arbitration Tribunal

Section 42 of the Act established the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Arbitration Tribunal to hear appeals over valuation but not challenges to the fairness of the statutory formula. The Tribunal was governed by rules made respectively by the Lord Advocate for Scotland and the Lord Chancellor for the remainder of the UK. [Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Arbitration Tribunal Rules 1977, Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Arbitration Tribunal (Scottish Proceedings) Rules 1977] [Application 9482/81] There was a right of appeal to the Court of Session in Scotland and to the Court of Appeal in the remainder of the UK (Sch.7), with a possible further appeal to the House of Lords. There was also provision for judicial review of the original compensation offer. [Lauterpacht (1987) "pp"456-457]

As of 2008, the Tribunal continues in existence but was described by the Council on Tribunals in 2006 as "Rarely Convened/ Moribund". [ cite web | url= | pages="p."70 | author=Council on Tribunals | year=2006 | title=Annual Report 2005/ 2006 | publisher=Ministry of Justice | work=Council on Tribunals archive site ] On 1 November 2007, the Tribunal came under the supervision of the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council and will be rationalised as part of the reforms put in place by the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. [Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (Listed Tribunals) Order 2007, [ SI 2007/2951] ]

European Court of Human Rights

The Conservative Party had been critical of the compensation proposals but, after being elected in the United Kingdom general election, 1979 did not change the arrangements. All shareholders had been paid out by the end of 1980. In 1980 unsuccessful applications to the European Court of Human Rights over the compensation were made by Vosper, Vickers, Yarrow and shareholders including English Electric, M&G Securities, Prudential, and Sir William Lithgow. [Lauterpacht (1987) "p."479]

They complained, in the end unsuccessfully, that the compensation scheme breached several articles of the European Convention on Human Rights, namely: [Application 9482/81] [Lauterpacht (1987) "p."441]
*Art.1 of Protocol 1, right to peaceful enjoyment of one's possessions;
*Art.6(1), right to a fair trial;
*Art.13, right to an effective remedy;
*Art.14, prohibition of discrimination;
*Art.17, prohibition of abuse of rights;
*Art.18, limitations on permitted restrictions of rights.



*"Whitaker's Almanack" 1978, "pp"356-365----
* cite journal | title=A law of the future or a law of the past? Modern tribunals and the International law of expropriation | author=Norton, P. M. | journal=American Journal of International Law | volume=85(3) | year=1991 | pages=474–505 | doi=10.2307/2203108
*" [,M1 Lithgow and Others] ", in Lauterpacht, E. (1987) "International Law Reports", London: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0949009083, "pp"438-536----

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