§ 46. Mr. HOUSTON
asked the Prime Minister whether he is aware that the shipping trade between North and South America and vice versâ was created by British shipowners and almost exclusively maintained by British steamers until after the outbreak of war, when practically the whole of the British steamers engaged in this trade were withdrawn for the purpose of carrying troops and supplies for the Allies; whether he is aware that steamers under the American and neutral flags were put on to this service; whether he is aware that the United States Shipping Board have brought American firms into this trade who, prior to the War, were not engaged in it, and have placed a large number of steamers in the hands of these firms for this service; whether services have been started by the United States Shipping Board and its agents to South Africa and Australia; whether the United States authorities have expressed their determination to make strenuous efforts to capture these various trades; and whether, in view of the sacrifices and services rendered by British shipowners during the War, diplomatic representations will be made to the American Government on this matter with the object of preventing competition and friction between Great Britain and the United States?
§ The PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY to the MINISTRY of SHIPPING (Colonel Leslie Wilson)
I have been asked to reply to this question. The Shipping Controller is well aware of the sacrifices which British shipowners engaged in the trades to which the hon. Member refers were required to make during the War, and all possible steps consistent with the maintenance of the essential imports of this country are now being taken to enable them to recover their pre-war position in these trades. The Government do not consider, however, that the employment of American tonnage could usefully or properly be made the subject of representations to the United States Government.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that this strenuous competition is likely to engender ill-feeling, and would not that be deplorable as between America and this country? Should not every effort be made to prevent it?
Is there any reason why it should not be talked over in a friendly manner with the American Government?
§ Colonel WILSON
My hon. Friend knows that, while the policy of the Shipping Controller is to free all merchant shipping from control as soon as possible, consideration must be given to the import of essential commodities into this country.
§ Mr. HOUSTON
Is the hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that he has entirely misapprehended the question?