HC Deb 17 April 1923 vol 162 cc1845-6

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that orders for 1,820 tons of ship plates were placed by Messrs. P. M'Callum and Sons, Limited, of Greenock, with firms in the Ruhr district of Germany, and that, owing to the French authorities' action, this material, much of which is rolled and has been ready for shipment since February, cannot be transported to this country, with the result that the Blythswood Shipbuilding Company, Limited, of Scotstown, owing to the non-delivery of the plates, have been forced to suspend the building of several vessels and wholly close down their yards, which otherwise would have been employing 1,200 workmen; and what steps he is prepared to take to remedy this situation?

Viscount WOLMER

I have been fully informed of the position by the two firms mentioned by the hon. Member. I would refer the hon. Member to the statements which the President of the Board of Trade made on the 28th of March and the 12th April, showing the steps which His Majesty's Government have taken, and are taking, to secure the delivery of these and similar goods.


Is the hon. Gentleman prepared to take such steps as will enable those plates which are ready for shipment to be shipped at once?

Viscount WOLMER

If the hon. Member will look at the OFFICIAL REPORT to which I have referred, he will see that my right hon. Friend is taking the most active steps open to him. The difficulty at the moment rests not with the French Government, but with the German Government.


Is there any reason why these plates should be made abroad, when men are out of employment at home?


Is it not possible for the President of the Board of Trade to take immediate steps to deal with this difficulty, having regard to its effect on employment in the Clyde district?


Will the Labour party in this country advocate adequate protection for British industries?

Viscount WOLMER

My right hon. Friend is making the most energetic representations he can, but it does not lie in our power at present to press the German Government.


Do not the German Government offer to allow these goods to come if the French will waive their rights?

53. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the question of the disposal of the money collected by the French Customs posts in the Ruhr district on British goods entering the occupied territory has yet been settled; if so, in what way; and, if not, what steps are being taken by His Majesty's Government to pursue the question?


No settlement of the question has yet been arrived at. It is understood that the French and Belgian Governments intend very shortly to make certain suggestions in regard to the matter, which can, however, be finally regulated only as part of a general resettlement of the reparation accounts.

Lieut. - Commander KENWORTHY

Does the Government realise that in the meantime British merchants are being deprived of their money, and cannot we do something to hasten this part of the question being decided?


I think the Government realise all these matters to which the hon. and gallant Member refers.

Captain BENN

Does not the Government think we have some claim on these duties which are exacted from British merchants?


The Gov ernment recognise all these matters.