64. Colonel Hutchison
asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty when he expects to increase the allocation of steel to the shipbuilding industry; and whether he is aware that orders for foreign vessels are being lost because British yards cannot give sufficiently early dates of delivery.
§ Mr. W. Edwards
The first part of the Question is for my hon. Friend the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. The answer to the second part of the Question is "No, Sir." I am not aware of the loss or cancellation of any orders for merchant ships whose construction in British yards has been licensed.
Will the hon. Gentleman accept the statement from me that, nevertheless, orders are being lost on account of the question of delivery? Is he aware that the industry is working at about half its potential capacity; and 1193 that with an increased allocation of steel, time could be reduced, the cost of vessels could be reduced, the cost of freights could be reduced, and, consequently, the cost to the public could be reduced?
§ Mr. Edwards
I am quite prepared to accept the word of the hon. and gallant Gentleman with regard to his experience, but I would point out that the shipbuilding industry, like all other industries in the country, has to go a little short of steel these days because of the general shortage of steel. I want also to state that the shipbuilding industry is not doing too badly, because it is being given a little above its allocation.