HC Deb 08 March 1934 vol 286 cc1993-4
25. Mr. McKEAG

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any part of the Exchequer contribution is being utilised by the Government of Ulster, either directly or indirectly, in assisting the Belfast shipbuilding industry, whether by way of subsidy or other direct facilities to the shipbuilders concerned or by the granting of loans at low rates of interest to shipping firms proposing to place orders in Belfast?

Commander SOUTHBY

I have been asked to reply. The revenues of the Northern Ireland Government are derived from the proceeds of taxes levied in Northern Ireland and the only grants made are for specific purposes, such as the equalisation of the unemployment charge between the two countries. There is no general Exchequer contribution which could be used in the manner suggested in the question. As regards shipbuilding I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Wallsend (Miss Ward) on the 5th February from which he will see that the only facilities are those afforded to shipowners under the Loan Guarantee Acts in the form of the guarantee, but not the grant, of certain loans for capital construction.


Is the hon. and gallant Member aware that in answer to a question in the Ulster Senate on Tuesday of this week a statement was made by a member of the Northern Ireland Govern- ment to the effect that over £12,000,000 is guaranteed for shipbuilding purposes in Northern Ireland on the understanding that orders are placed in the Belfast shipyards; and whether he does not consider this a discrimination in favour of the Belfast shipyards as against such shipyards as are situated on the Tyne and the Clyde and elsewhere in this country?


Is it not a fact that all that the Northern Government do is to guarantee to the banks who advance money to shipbuilders such money as is necessary to go on with the contract; and is it not a fact that having built the ships they have a lien on them?


Is not this a form of indirect subsidy, and, therefore, may I ask what form of protection can be given to English and Scottish shipbuilding for the same sort of constructional work?


I have seen the statement to which the hon. Member refers, and in the answer there is a recital of the true facts of the case.


Arising out of the reply—


We cannot have a Debate on this question.