HC Deb 25 May 1916 vol 82 c2271

asked the President of the Board of Trade if his attention has been drawn to the constant declaration of huge profits of shipping companies; and whether he proposes to take any action in the matter with a view to allay public anxiety in connection with the continued increase in the cost of food, which it is suggested is mainly due to the high freights now ruling?


I am aware of the high profits made by many shipping companies. If the regulation of the freights of British ships would solve the tonnage difficulty, which is world wide, it would have been adopted long ago. Any regulation of freights to have an effective influence on prices must extend to neutral ships, which is impracticable without endangering the supply of neutral tonnage to bring necessaries to this country, and thus producing a shortage which would increase prices instead of diminishing them. We are doing our utmost to alleviate the tonnage situation by securing economy in the use of the ships we have and by bringing more ships into service, and in this we have had a fair measure of success, though much still remains to be done.