§ 24. Rear-Admiral SUETER
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether, in view of recent disclosures of the losses caused to British shipping by the uneconomic conditions of subsidised foreign shipping lines, he will now say what action he proposed to take to safeguard the British shipping industry?
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
I would refer my hon. and gallant Friend to the reply which I gave on the 9th November to my hon. and gallant Friend the Member for South Cardiff (Captain A. Evans).
§ 26. The following Question stood upon the Order Paper in the name of Mr. MACLEAN:
§ To ask the President of the Board of Trade whether he can state the number of merchant ships that have been transferred from the British flag to foreign flags during the last two years; the respective countries to which they have been transferred; and the numbers and the tonnage of each ship?
§ Mr. MACLEAN
May I point out that, in the last line of this Question, the word "each" should be "such"? The words should be: 188the respective countries to which they have been transferred; and the numbers and the tonnage of such ships.
§ Mr. RUNCIMAN
404 vessels of 100 tons gross and upwards, formerly registered in the United Kingdom, were reported as sold to foreigners during the period 1st December, 1931, to 30th November, 1933. Of these vessels 102 have been reported as having been broken up, and it is possible that some others have been broken up. Accordingly not more than 302 vessels of the 404 vessels sold to foreigners were registered under a foreign flag. With the change in the Question suggested by the hon. Gentleman I shall be able to comply, I hope, in a table which I will send to him.
§ 48. Mr. MACLEAN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the French Government is subsidising French shipbuilding and shipping; and whether he will give an assurance that no sanction will be given for any new loan to the French Government to be raised in this country until an agreement is entered into to stop this subsidised competition?
§ The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)
So far as I am aware, no proposal for the issue of a loan in this country by the French Government is at present under consideration and the question does not therefore arise.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
If a proposal does come forward, will the right hon. Gentleman consider the request which is made in the question?
§ Mr. THORNE
Has the Chancellor of the Exchequer information in his Department as to the countries which subsidise ship-bulding, and, if so, and in consequence of the Motion which is to come before the House to-morrow, will he have the information circulated?
§ 49. Mr. MACLEAN
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he is aware that the Government of Northern Ireland is giving the shipbuilding yards in their jurisdiction the benefits of the Trade Facilities Act; and whether he is prepared to revive the benefits of the 189 Trade Facilites Act for shipbuilding in this country, and so enable shipbuilding companies in Britain to tender for contracts for new ships on equal terms with the shipbuilding firms in Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. CHAMBERLAIN
I think that the hon. Member is under some misapprehension. The Trade Facilities Acts of this country expired in 1927. Any guarantees now being given by the Government of Northern Ireland are guarantees of that Government exclusively, given under a separate Act passed by the Parliament of Northern. Ireland. I do not regard the existence of these facilities as affording ground for reversing the decision of successive Governments against any general revival of the Trade Facilities Acts in this country, nor do I believe that a general artificial stimulation of shipbuilding would conduce to the advantage of shipowners or, in the long run, of shipbuilders in this country.
§ Mr. MACLEAN
In view of his disgust at the artificial stimulus which is given to this particular industry, will the right hon. Gentleman consult with the First Lord of the Admiralty to see that no war vessels are built under the terms of the Irish Trade Facilities Act?