§ 20. Mr. Denville
asked the President of the Board of Trade whether he is aware that the price offered by foreign buyers for British ships is in excess of that obtainable in the home market; and whether, therefore, he is still advising that British ships should not be sold to foreign buyers in view of the delay in 1992 introducing legislation for the assistance of British shipping?
§ Mr. Stanley
I am informed that in some cases higher prices are being offered for British ships from abroad than are obtainable in the home market. Since the House approved a Supplementary Estimate for the purpose of acquiring a reserve of tonnage, the Merchant Ship Reserve Advisory Committee has been constituted and the committee is now considering offers of ships for the Reserve. Pending my decision in particular cases, in the light of the committee's advice, I consider it preferable that in existing circumstances British ships should not be transferred to foreign flags.
§ Mr. Bellenger
Will the right hon. Gentleman give the House an assurance that the inflated prices being offered by foreign nations will have no effect on the prices that are to be paid out of this fund?
§ Mr. Stanley
I quite agree with the hon. Member. The matter will be kept closely in mind. Any offer will be related to the value of the ship to us, and not to what might be offered by foreign countries.