HC Deb 13 February 1940 vol 357 c555
9. Mr. Levy

asked the Minister of Shipping what remuneration is to be paid to the shipowners whose ships were taken over by the Government on the 1st February; and whether any estimate is available of the profit that may accrue to the Exchequer from the operation of these ships?

The Minister of Shipping (Sir John Gilmour)

Under the Compensation (Defence) Act, the rates of hire for requisitioned ships, unless settled by agreement, will be determined by a tribunal on principles laid down in the Act, but negotiations with a view to agreeing rates are in progress. The purpose of the Liner Requisitioning Scheme is to enable tonnage to be used to the best advantage in the nation's war effort and a large proportion of the cargoes carried will be on Government account. It is not possible at this stage to estimate any profit which may be earned from the commercial operation of these vessels.

Mr. Levy

Have freight rates increased since the Government have taken over, and does my right hon. Friend contemplate controlling export trade freight rates?

Sir J. Gilmour

All these matters are under negotiation. I cannot say more.

Mr. Shinwell

Does not the right hon. Gentleman appreciate the need for an early settlement of the financial difficulties surrounding this question? Has he not noticed the unsettling effect of this delay in shipping shares in the stock markets?

Sir J. Gilmour

I can say no more at present.

Mr. Thorne

Are the shipowners to be paid by the profits that the ships earn?

Sir Herbert Williams

Is it not the case that as soon as you nationalised shipping you put up the prices higher than private enterprise was charging?