HC Deb 13 December 1933 vol 284 cc372-3
Commander COCHRANE

(by Private Notice) asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can now make any further statement regarding the progress of the negotiations for ending competition between the Cunard and the White Star Lines, and whether the Government are now able to assist in the completion of the suspended Cunard liner No. 534?

The CHANCELLOR of the EXCHEQUER (Mr. Chamberlain)

I am glad to say that these difficult and complicated negotiations, conducted with great good will on all sides, have reached a stage at which the Government feel justified in assuming that an effective merger of the North Atlantic fleets of the Cunard and White Star lines will become an accomplished fact at an early date. It is the intention of the Government in that event shortly to lay before the House proposals for furnishing the necessary financial facilities for the completion of the new Cunard liner known as No. 534.


Is the right hon. Gentleman in a position to give us any indication when work will be resumed on the 534, now lying in Clydebank in my constituency?


I cannot give a definite statement because certain preliminaries have to be effected, not only the proposals to which I have already alluded, which will have to come before this House, but the consent of secured creditors in each of the two cases will have to be secured; but I hope that as everybody is anxious to get on with the work as soon as possible the commencement will not be unduly delayed.


Is there any possibility, as the House rises next week, of the Bill being introduced before Parliament rises so as to give some encouragement and hope to those who have been dismissed owing to the stoppage of work, rather than having to wait until the House resumes next January?


It will not be possible to introduce the Bill before the House rises, but the other necessary steps can be proceeded with in the meantime.


Will any reference be made in the proposals to the possible construction of a sister ship?


We had better wait for the proposals.


May I ask whether the question of the fuel to be burnt has been a matter of negotiation between the Government and the company concerned?


We cannot go into that question now.