HC Deb 15 March 1944 vol 398 cc214-5
11. Sir W. Smithers

asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport the tonnage of merchant shipping owned by Great Britain and the U.S.A., respectively, in 1939 and the latest comparable figures.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of War Transport (Mr. Noel-Baker)

The tonnage of sea-going merchant vessels registered at United Kingdom or Colonial Ports in 1939 amounted to about 22,000,000 tons in deadweight. The corresponding tonnage of vessels registered at United States ports was about 12,500,000 tons deadweight. I regret that it would be contrary to the public interest to give the corresponding figures of the tonnage registered at the present time.

Sir W. Smithers

In view of the fact that we stood alone for one year, and in view of the fact of our losses in the Allied cause, will the hon. Gentleman see to it that consideration is given to these two factors in any post-war international arrangements?

Mr. Noel-Baker

Yes, Sir, certainly.

Mr. Shinwell

Is my hon. Friend aware that the differences in the present figures between the British and the United States Mercantile Marine are frequently published in the shipping periodicals? Can he say whether any steps are being taken by his Ministry in order to reduce the leeway for the British Mercantile Marine?

Mr. Noel-Baker

The figures which are published have no authority behind them. Of course, we are doing everything we can to build up our Mercantile Marine.

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