HC Deb 18 November 1930 vol 245 cc238-9

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he is aware that a large amount of old British shipping tonnage is being sold to foreign shipowners; the amount of such tonnage; and whether he proposes to take any action to prevent it.


The total number of all vessels reported in 1929 as removed from the United Kingdom Register on sale to foreign subjects was 240, with a tonnage of 687,063 tons gross, and the comparable figures for the year 1913 were 432 vessels of 755,020 tons gross. I have recently appointed a committee to inquire into the whole question of the disposal of old ships, and I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of the terms of reference, with the names of the members of the committee.

Viscountess ASTOR

Does the right hon. Gentleman think that it is really necessary to have this committee?

60. Mr. EGAN

asked the President of the Board of Trade if he will include in the terms of reference for investigation and report by the committee inquiring into the sale of old ships to foreign competitors the subsidising of foreign shipbuilding and ship-repairing yards by their respective Governments, and the taxation by foreign Governments of the cost of repairs on foreign ships carried out in this country?


The subjects mentioned by my hon. Friend are being carefully watched by my Department, but I do not think any useful purpose would be served by including them within the reference to the committee in question.


In view of the fact that 70,000 shipbuilders are out of work, would the right hon. Gentleman expedite the report of this Committee?


Yes, my whole object was that this Committee should report on this urgent point as soon as possible, but I do not want to widen the terms of reference by dealing with subsidies and taxation. We can analyse those questions in another way.