45. Mr. T. THOMSON
asked the Prime Minister whether the Government are prepared to make representations to our late Allies that they should follow our example to waive their respective claims to the 1,000,000 tons gross of new merchant shipping which, under the reparation Clauses of the Versailles Treaty, Germany has to build during the next five years, and thus prevent the shipyards of our Allies and ourselves being prejudiced in supplying the world's needs for new ships by this reparation tonnage being forced on the market?
The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Sir Robert Home)
Under the Treaty of Versailles, Germany undertook to lay down 200,000 gross tons a year for five years commencing from the 10th April, 1920. No such tonnage has, however, as yet been laid down, and in view of the fact that Great Britain and Japan have waived their claims, the maximum that can be required from Germany after 10th April, 1922, is only 40,000 gross tons a year for three years. I believe certain of our Allies intend to have a few vessels laid down in Germany for their account, but I do not think it necessary to make such representations as are suggested by the hon. Member.
Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that, if such tonnage is built, it will prejudicially affect the amount of labour required in shipyards in this country? Does not that interest the Government?