§ The Minister of War Transport (Mr. Barnes)
In view of the considerable public interest in the use of the liners "Queen Mary," "Queen Elizabeth" and "Aquitania," I desire, with the indulgence of the House, to make a statement.
Earlier this year when the war against Japan still continued and the most urgent military necessity was the redeployment of the American forces from Europe, it was arranged that the best use of these three ships, in the common cause, was to ferry American troops with all speed across the Atlantic. Since the defeat of Japan, discussions for the reallocation of these liners, or the provision by the American authorities of equivalent transport capacity for the repatriation of British forces, have been opened with the American Government. As a result I am able to report that the "Queen Elizabeth" and the "Aquitania" will, in future, be used for the carriage of British troops. The "Queen Mary" is to remain at the disposal of the American authorities for the present, but the Americans are placing at our disposal a number of smaller ships. In total, these smaller vessels will render us equivalent service which it is most convenient for us to have, as we shall be so enabled to move forces from areas where it would 546 be wasteful, and even impracticable, to use such a large vessel as the "Queen Mary." I am sure that the House will regard this as satisfactory, and His Majesty's Government wish to express their appreciation to the American Government for this friendly and helpful arrangement.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
Is the Minister aware that the statement will give great satisfaction to men serving overseas; and will he take steps to see that the reasons why the "Queen Mary" is not being allocated immediately are made known to the men overseas, so that they understand the position?
§ Mr. Barnes
If the hon. Member will study the language of this statement, I think he will find that it conveys accurately the points in which he is interested.
§ Mr. Mallalieu
I am aware of that, but I would ask the Minister to take steps to see that those reasons are promulgated to the men overseas, and not merely to this House?