§ 75. Mr. HOUSTON
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Shipping Controller whether he is aware that the United States Government claim to have established American maritime supremacy; that 33.7 per cent. of all tonnage afloat is under the American flag and that 33.5 per cent. is under the British flag; and that the United States in. March last had over 4,185,000 gross tons of vessels under construction while vessels building in the United Kingdom on the same date only amounted to 2,250,000 tons or thereabouts; whether he is aware that shipping is of more vital importance to Great Britain than it is to the United States; and can he state what measures are being taken to deal with this situation?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of SHIPPING (Colonel Leslie Wilson)
I have seen in the Press the statement to which my hon. Friend refers, but am unaware of the facts on which the statement is based. According to Lloyd's Register, the world's steam tonnage on 30th April was about 42,000,000 tons gross, of which about 17,250,000 tons, or 41 per cent., was British, and 8,355,000 tons, or nearly 20 per cent., was American. The tonnage under construction at that date was as stated. The Shipping Controller has complete confidence in the ability of the British ship-owner and shipbuilder to maintain the pre-war supremacy of the British Mercantile Marine.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
Is my hon. Friend not aware that the figures named in my statement are supplied by the American Navy Department, and that Lloyd's do not get full particulars of all vessels building in America; has my hon. Friend included in his figures the large number of German ships which were appropriated by America, amounting to about 700,000 tons; and furthermore—
§ Colonel WILSON
The figures that I gave with reference to the American tonnage include all the ships taken under the terms of the Armistice and all the ships dealt with in the American Prize Court.