HC Deb 26 June 1934 vol 291 cc954-5

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he has considered proposals from sections of the shipbuilding or shipping trades for the purpose of scrapping obsolete shipping and building new ships with the assistance of Government loans at a low rate of interest; whether he is aware that the advocates claim that if their method were-adopted 100 ships of 7,000 tons deadweight capacity each could be built; and whether, in view of the distressed condition of shipbuilding areas, he will give the proposal his serious consideration?

20. Mr. HANNON

asked the President of the Board of Trade whether general agreement has now been reached among British shipowners in relation to the future of this industry, and if he is pre- pared to implement the promises made by the Government to introduce remedial measures when this state of affairs has been reached; if he is aware that the percentage of world shipping tonnage owned by Great Britain has fallen from 41.6 in 1914 to 27.9 in 1933; if he is aware that subsidies to shipping are in operation in most foreign countries; and if he is now in a position to declare the policy of the Government in order to save British shipping from ultimate ruin?


I hope within the next few days to make a statement on the Government's policy in regard to British shipping, and I prefer not to anticipate that statement.


May I ask whether it is a fact that the shipping industry has not suggested that the Government should adopt the replacement scheme, but that on the contrary, it is the expressed view of the industry that such a scheme should not be adopted?


I am afraid that I can say nothing until I make my statement in the House.


Will the right hon. Gentleman also make a statement about the coasting trade?


May I ask whether the right hon. Gentleman intends to make a complete statement of the Government's policy regarding this particular scheme?


No, Sir, I cannot make what might be called a complete statement. The subject of British shipping is so very large that I could not do that within the limits of question and answer. Regarding the coasting trade, if the hon. Member for Farnham (Sir A. M. Samuel) will wait for the statement, he will know what it contains.


I would like to ask whether the right hon. Gentleman is not in a position to give us now a forecast of the point of view held by the Cabinet on this important matter?