HC Deb 22 February 1922 vol 150 c1866
4. Sir W. SEAGER

asked the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he is aware that the Portuguese Minister of Commerce is endeavouring to negotiate the sale of ex-German steamers, directly or indirectly, to German financial interests, and that, according to well-informed reports from Portugal, the intention is that the vessels, although actually German-owned, should continue to fly the Portuguese flag; whether it is realised that because the new Portuguese legislation discriminates against foreign shipping in respect of custom duties, harbour dues, etc., the German-owned vessels will, therefore, be placed in a much more favoured position than British ships; and what action he proposes to take in the matter?


The attitude of His Majesty's Government is explained in the letter to which I referred, in replying to various questions on this subject on 16th February. A copy of this letter has been laid in the Library of the House. The most recent evidence in my possession tends to show that the German interests involved are not substantial, and that if any deal take place, it will probably not be of the nature indicated by the hon. Member.


Is it not true that the Germans are controlling these vessels, and if they are allowed to carry coal it will be to the great disadvantage of British ships? Will not the export of 500,000 tons of coal from Cardiff be seriously jeopardised unless something is done?


I have said my information is that the German interest in this matter is very small. If my hon. Friend has any further information in his possession, I shall be glad to see it.


Have the German ships obtained by the Portuguese Government been sold yet?


I should like to have notice of that question.